The Missing Ingredient “Sophie,” came a voice from downstairs. “Could you come down here?”
In her bedroom—which doubled as an art studio—Sophie set down her paintbrush right away. It was her mom calling, and she sounded worried.
Sophie knew her mother had a lot of baking to do that day. Lily Mouse’s bakery had gotten three big orders: a wedding cake, two dozen birthday cupcakes, and a batch of scones for the mayor’s tea. And everything needed to be done by tomorrow! She’d brought her work home with her so she didn’t have to spend day and night at the bakery.
Sophie scurried down the stairs. In the kitchen, her mom was frosting a layer of the wedding cake. Bowls, baking pans, and utensils crowded the countertop. Mrs. Mouse’s apron was covered in flour. Her whiskers were drooping.
But she perked up when she saw Sophie.
“I sure could use an extra set of hands,” she told Sophie. “I know you’re busy working on a painting, but . . . would you mind?”
Mind? Sophie thought. She loved helping her mom bake. “What can I do?” Sophie asked. “Make the cupcakes? Glaze the scones? Decorate the cake?”
Mrs. Mouse smiled apologetically. “It’s not that much fun,” she explained. “I just realized I’m out of lemon extract. I need it for the scone glaze.”
Oh no. Sophie felt an errand coming on.
“Would you run to Hattie’s house?” Lily went on. “See if they have any? If they don’t, I’m not sure what I’ll do. I know I’m all out at the bakery!”
It wasn’t really what Sophie felt like doing. But she wanted to help.
So Sophie went off down the path toward Hattie Frog’s house. Hattie was one of Sophie’s best friends—and closest neighbors. Hattie, her big sister, Lydie, and their parents lived on the bank of the stream.
What are the chances they have lemon extract? Sophie wondered. It was an unusual ingredient.
Halfway to Hattie’s, Sophie’s eyes fell on a patch of three-leaved plants.
“Wood sorrel!” she cried. “Yum!”
She picked a few leaves. She nibbled as she walked on. Sophie had always loved its fresh, lemony flavor.
Sophie stopped again. She stared down at the leaves in her hand. Lemon! Could wood sorrel work in her mom’s recipe?
Sophie backtracked to the patch of wood sorrel. She gathered as much as she could in her arms.
Then she hurried home to see what her mom would say.
Poppy Green can talk to animals! Unfortunately, they never talk back to her. So she started writing in order to imagine what they might say and do when humans aren’t watching. Poppy lives on the edge of the woods in Connecticut, where her backyard is often a playground for all kinds of wildlife: birds, rabbits, squirrels, voles, skunks, deer, and the occasional wild turkey.
Jennifer A. Bell is an illustrator whose work can be found on greeting cards, in magazines, and in over a dozen children’s books. She lives with her husband, son, and cranky cat in Minneapolis, Minnesota.