Meet Ellen. She is six years old.

On her sixth birthday, her grandmother gave her a little, stuffed mouse. The mouse had a long tail, pink nose, pink ears, and lots of whiskers. Ellen named him Mousie.

Mousie went to kindergarten with her. His favorite part of the day was snack time. His favorite snack was cheese crackers with peanut butter.

He also liked going to the zoo. Mousie always growled--Grrrrr--at the tigers from the safety of Ellen's pocket.

When they helped Ellen's dad do the weekly grocery shopping, Mousie rode around in the grocery cart and guarded the coupons.

At the library, Mousie wanted Ellen to read stories about other brave mice. He liked looking at the pictures in the books too.

One Saturday at breakfast, Ellen's dad announced, "It's too nice to stay inside today. Let's take a picnic lunch and go to the beach."

Ellen and her older sister, Lisa, both ran to get ready. Ellen went to her room to wake up Mousie. He wasn't on her pillow! She looked through her sheets and under the bed. She couldn't find Mousie.

"Mom, Dad, Lisa! Have you seen Mousie? I can't find him!" Ellen cried.

"You had him last night, Ellen, when mom read to us," Lisa said. "He probably just fell down somewhere. I'll help you look."

The whole family looked for Mousie. They looked all over Ellen's room, Lisa's room, their parents' room, the living room, the kitchen, hallway, bathrooms, basement, and even the garage. They couldn't find Mousie.

Finally, their mom said, "Let's go on that picnic anyway, girls. I'm sure Mousie will turn up soon. He's probably just taking a little vacation himself."

The sand on the beach was warm. The water was clear. Ellen did not wade. She did not skip stones with Lisa. She did not build a sandcastle. (Mousie loved sandcastles: he pretended he was king of the castle.) She sat on a towel with her mom and dug a big hole in the sand.

When they returned home, their dad suggested, "Let's look for Mousie again. He's small and we might have missed him this morning."

At dinnertime, they had to stop looking for Mousie and eat. They had macaroni and cheese, Mousie's favorite dinner. Ellen could not eat much without Mousie.

Her mom sent Ellen to bed early, "You must be tired, since you missed your nap. Don't worry, we'll keep our eyes open for Mousie."

Ellen could not sleep without Mousie. She was wide awake when Sam, the family cat, came into her room. He had soft, orange-striped fur and a loud purr.

"I'm too sad to play with you today, Sam. Why don't you go sleep somewhere else?" Ellen said. Sam jumped onto her bed anyway. He had something in his mouth. Sam sometimes carried his toys. But this did not look like one of his toys. It looked just like…Mousie!

"Mom, Dad, Lisa! Come see! Sam found Mousie!" Ellen hugged Sam.

With Mousie on the pillow and Sam snuggled against her stomach, Ellen fell right asleep.

Story created by Marianne Le.