The mouse that ate books, part 1 of 2

Part One

Early in the morning, while most people were still asleep in the village, Lanky the elf had already started his day. There was so much work to do in Santa’s library!

Piles of books were waiting to be put back on the shelves. Tibö, a young elf in training, was helping Lanky in his tasks. Tibö was mesmerized as Lanky gave him a tour of the big library.

“How amazing!” said Tibö. “I’ve never seen so many books in my whole life!”

“There are as many books in Santa’s library as there are children in the world,” explained Lanky. “Santa writes down all of the details about each child in those books.”

“That sounds like a lot of work! How does he do it?” asked Tibö.

“Santa does work very hard, but he also gets help from the elves,” replied Lanky. “We take notes on the children’s behavior, and we add pictures of them in the books along with all the letters and drawings that they send.”

Lanky walked toward a pile of books as high as a tower.

“Do you see this pile? These are all the books that have been updated recently. Our mission is to put them back on the shelves. That way, when a child uses the Portable North Pole console to get in touch with Santa, we will be able to find his personalized book quickly.”

“I see!” said Tibö. “Santa will use the child’s book to review his year with him.”

“That’s it! I’m very pleased to see that you understand the process, young elf! Now, back to work! There’s a lot to do!”

Lanky climbed up on a stepladder and grabbed the book on the top of the pile. He suddenly screamed.

“Lanky? What’s going on?” asked Tibö, very worried.

Lanky kept silent and grabbed another book. “Oh no! That can’t be true!”

Lanky rushed down with the two books and showed them to Tibö.

“Look! Someone has nibbled the book covers! We can’t even read the names of the children they belong to anymore!”

Tibö took a close look at the two books. The covers had marks and small holes that reminded him of Swiss cheese.

“It looks like a mouse did that to the books,” said Tibö.

“I don’t understand,” said Lanky. “It’s the first time this has happened. It is very annoying. These must be fixed so we can identify the children they belong to.”

A very concerned Lanky put the two books aside and started putting the other books back on their shelves with Tibö. They worked all day without stopping until Gordot the elf arrived to take over. He worked the night shift at the library. He was a very friendly elf, but he always seemed a bit sleepy. He was also known in the village for his sweet tooth. Lanky started explaining the situation to him.

“It is very important that the children’s books stay in good shape,” said Lanky to Gordot.

“Keep an eye on them and if you see a mouse, catch her and ask for an explanation!”

“I will keep my eyes peeled,” promises Gordot.

Lanky and Tibö left the library and headed to the village cafeteria. A very tired Tibö rubbed his eyes.

“I never would have thought that working in Santa’s library would be so exhausting!”

“Let’s have a light meal and go to bed. We start very early again tomorrow,” replied Lanky.

Tibö’s bed was very comfy, but he was agitated in his sleep. He kept dreaming of hundreds of mice devouring the book covers. He managed to get up early and slowly ate his bowl of oatmeal, still disturbed by the nightmares.

When he got to the library, Lanky had been there for a while. He looked completely discouraged.

“Look,” he said, pointing toward a pile of books. “Five more books have been eaten while we were away!”

“Oh no!” said Tibö. “Did Gordot see any mice during his night shift?”

“No. He said he hasn’t seen anything out of the ordinary. I suspect he naps during his shift. The mouse could have taken advantage of his sleeping to eat the books.”

“But why would a mouse want to eat a book? That’s a strange meal!” asked Tibö.

“I’m going to find out,” replied Lanky. “I’m going to borrow one of the cats that live in the barn and have him catch the mouse tonight.”

“Excellent idea,” said Tibö. “If Gordot the elf hasn’t been able to catch the mouse, for sure, the cat will!”

The two elves spent the day putting books away. When Gordot showed up for his night shift, Lanky asked Tibö to bring a cat from the reindeers’ barn. Tibö picked a big black cat that was known for being a good mouse hunter.

Tibö had trouble sleeping again because he was way too excited. Would the cat catch the book-eating mouse? Would we ever find out why the mouse suddenly wanted to eat the children’s books? Come back later to read the rest of the story!

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