Nicole in Toylandia Written by: Martin Jandera
Illustrated by: Katarína Kánová
ÂŠ Lavion s.r.o, 2012 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means without permission in writing from the publisher, Lavion Ltd.
Nicole in Toylandia Written by: Martin Jandera Illustrated by: Katarína Kánová
Dear Nicole, We wish you all the best, many happy days and a lot of good friends. Happy birthday, sweetie. Mum andÂ Dad
nce upon a time there was a town and in the town lived a little girl Nicole. Come to think of it, Nicole is not that little anymore. But that depends on your point of view. To her Mum and Dad, she will always be their little girl and just the same for her Grandma and Grandpa. But perhaps not for other people. They often say to her parents: ‘Oh my, what a big girl she is,’ or ‘Hasn’t she grown since the last time I saw her.’ Nicole just raises her eyebrows when she hears this; it is just something people say. But now let’s get back to the town. It is just an ordinary town with buildings, streets and pavements. People walk on these with their dogs and go about their normal business. It is a normal town just like where any of us live, or have lived or at least visited. And that’s where Nicole lives, in the house, which is also ordinary. Up until now there hasn’t been anything special to write a story about, and although there are many books about common things, this book is not like them. It is about extraordinary things that lay hidden behind the ordinary. And one such thing is… HIM. A character without a name; a toy master and a cruel ruler. When the night falls and nobody watches, He takes what He wants. And though children do not have to fear Him, it is their toys that do.
icole woke up just as the first rays of sun danced on her bed. Outside the window the weather looked nice, which made Nicole smile, for today is her birthday and she hoped the sun would look down on the world with a smile. ‘Mum? Mummy!’ ‘Yes?’ her Mum answered from the kitchen. ‘When do I get my presents?’ ‘First get dressed, eat your breakfast and brush your teeth. And what happened to simply saying good morning, uh?!’ Nicole dangled her feet over the edge of the bed and gave a wide yawn, into which she managed to fit: ‘Good moooorning.’ ‘Dressing, brushing, eating. Over and over,’ she mumbled to herself. Nevertheless she did it. She got dressed and padded into the bathroom to brush her teeth. The day doesn’t start too well, she thought, but as she looked in the mirror she said to herself: ‘Today is my birthday and so no long faces!’ She went back to her room, threw the covers on her bed and was just about to trot downstairs when she noticed a small toy soldier in the far corner of the room; it was holding something in his hands. She might have well missed the little green figure, as her room was a real mess and her toys were strewn all over the room. ‘Strange she thought, what’s that?’ she shook her head and stepped round her bed to take a look. The plastic soldier sat with his back against the wall, among her dolls and soft toys. He wore a green helmet and black 9
boots, and was dressed in military camouflage clothing. In his hand he was holding onto… a piece of gingerbread. Nicole leaned over and poked the soldier with her finger; the cookie fell out of his hand. She picked up the soldier in one hand and the gingerbread in the other and looked at them curiously. She thought the cookie looked like one of the dog’s biscuits they showed on TV. ‘What’s taking you so long?’ a voice came from the kitchen. ‘I’m coming,’ she called through the open door and put the soldier and the cookie onto her desk. 10
She wondered how the plastic soldier got into her room; it didn’t belong to her for sure? She decided to get to the bottom of things and for now not to mention it to anyone. Besides she was certain it wasn’t her birthday present. First it wasn’t wrapped in bright paper, which her Mum always used for presents. And second, it was silly to give a little plastic soldier with a cookie in his hand as a birthday present to a girl. With that thought Nicole turned round and walked to the kitchen. ‘Good morning,’ she said again in case her earlier greeting had got lost in the sound of her yawn. ‘You are up? This early?’ surprised Nicole looked over to the sofa by the window where her Dad, was sitting. He was sipping tea from his usual cup and at the same time was toying with a piece of an apple pie. ‘Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to youuu…’ he started singing as soon as Nicole entered. Nicole went to cover her ears and started giggling. It wasn’t so much for the fact that her Dad would sing out of tune but rather because he was loud. ‘I got up extra specially early today,’ he stepped towards Nicole, smiling. ‘Happy birthday,’ he said. Her Dad was a night owl and so he went to bed late at night much later than anyone else. He woke up late too when most of the morning had passed by, but not today, today was special, but even so Nicole watched her Dad with surprise bubbling with good humour and jokes so early in the morning. ‘And presents? Do I get any?’ Nicole kissed her Dad on both cheeks.
‘Don’t you worry; just be patient,’ came from behind her back. ‘First eat your breakfast. You are a growing girl and need all the energy you can get.’ Nicole thought to herself that it was just like at her Grandma’s where as soon as you arrived your were served something to eat, almost before you had time to say hello. ‘What’s for breakfast?’ she looked at a tray her Mum was holding. ‘Toast and… hot milk. Not again! You know how I hate the skin. It’s disgusting!! Ewww.’ ‘Why don’t you just take it out with a teaspoon? It is that simple,’ her Mum replied calmly and joined her husband on the sofa. Nicole dipped her spoon in the cup and wiggled it quickly back and forth till the last bit of the skin stuck on it. She held the spoon between her thumb and forefinger and made a show of carrying it to the sink where she dropped it with a flourish, ‘there, yuk.’ ‘It won’t bite you!’ her parent said together from the sofa. ‘By the way, have you tidied up your toys? Or have you left them as usual in the corner? We may have to reconsider giving you your birthday presents if you can’t look after the ones you have already,” her parents joked. No, she hadn’t tidied up her toys; she hated cleaning. In any case, there has always been someone who couldn’t stand the mess in her room and eventually put away all her toys where they belong –into plastic boxes and onto wooden shelves. That ‘someone’ was usually her Mum. Her Dad didn’t come into her room often and he always referred to the mess in her room as ‘cozy.’ 12
Nicole didn’t take care of her toys. Only her dollhouse stood in its proper place; it was heavy and Nicole could barely move it. As for its dolls, they scattered here and there, like autumn leaves on streets. When Nicole finally got round to cleaning, she would pile up all the dolls in a corner of her room. The only toy allowed to sleep in her bed, eat breakfast with her and live in the dollhouse was Lucy – a doll with long blond hair, dressed in a sports kit with golden stripes. At the mention of the word tidy-up, Nicole remembered the plastic soldier on her desk and was about to ask her parents whether they knew how he had gotten into her room, then she stopped herself. After all, she wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery herself. And so instead she mumbled in between gobbling down her breakfast: ‘I’ll do it after breakfast.’ And what about her presents? Had her parents forgotten? She hoped not, but the mess in her room and a pile of the toys jammed in the corner didn’t bode well to get more toys. She ate her breakfast in a hurry and, then, like a ghost, disappeared into her room. Nicole began tidying up, if you could call it that. She was cramming toys into boxes and throwing them on shelves; some even ended in the shadows under the bed. One toy box got so stuffed full that Nicole had to squash and squeeze down the heads, ears and legs of several soft toys to close the lid. The same went on in the dollhouse; dolls were bundled up inside and Nicole struggled to arrange them so that no legs or arms were sticking out. ‘Done,’ Nicole looked around the room, very pleased with herself. ‘And now I get my presents.’ She pulled a blanket over 13