Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2020 finalist, Dakyung Clara Yoon! Clara finished 5th grade this past school year. The story she submitted is called “Cupcake Village.”  Our judges enjoyed the world-building and vivid imagery in Clara’s story.


 

A Beautiful Friendship

“Knock, knock.”

Not too far inside the mint chocolate chip frosting house, a bunny named Bunnie cautiously opened the creaking cracker door, then remembered she had forgotten to call the repairman. There was someone, and that someone was a bear whose name was Beardy.

“Hey, Bunnie! Sorry I’m late!” Beardy apologized, completely out of breath. He was supposed to arrive at 2:00 but fell asleep after a cup of warm milk. He then had the absolutely strangest dream about clouds, machines, and seeds that led to villages. It didn’t quite make sense like other dreams Beardy had had. The clock struck 2:04 and Beardy quickly snatched Bunnie’s address leaf and a coat, borrowed a cream puff boat from Mildlock, the mouse, streamed down the strawberry cream river, and arrived 12 minutes later.

“Oh, that’s totally fine! Come in!” Bunnie replied gently. The two bounced on Bunnie’s comfy marshmallow couch. It was a usual Friday morning. Bunnie handed him a cup of sweet Aprierry tea.

“Mmmm! This is really good! It’s Dexcerry tea, right? Please tell me I’m right this time!” “Umm, no, it’s Aprierry. But that’s a pretty decent guess! They taste almost identical.”
“Can we make some this time? You know mine always turns out like carrots. We never really got a chance to do it.” Beardy added.
“Sure! Let’s do it!” Bunnie hopped out of the couch and hopped to the kitchen.

The two started making tea and cookies in Bunnie’s kitchen. Beardy complimented her about how nicely it was re-designed with caramel and candy canes. To Beardy’s delight, the tea turned out absolutely splendid. The house was filled with joy and laughter. It was a fun hour and most importantly, another unforgettable one.

For the next few hours, they played chess. They were so into it, that they kind of lost track of time.
It was Beardy’s turn to make a move. He reached his paw out to move the pawn when suddenly the chess pieces started to shatter and tremble all over the carpet.
“Beardy, is something wrong?” Bunnie added a laugh, thinking it was another prank.
“Uh, no.” Beardy was a little bit concerned.
“Beardy, why is our tea spilling? And it seems like it’s very windy outside…”
Suddenly, there was the loudest whoosh of the wind anyone had ever heard. Beardy’s eyes were the first to be at the window.

 

Jellybean Milk Sweet Taffy Cream Tornado!

“What was that?!” Now Bunnie was also staring, looking shocked.

The sky seemed to be completely covered with thick, creamy fuchsia violet milk and had jelly beans, cookies, and cracker crumbs flying all around. Destroyed cupcake houses were turning into the tiniest crumbs twirling around! They were all swishing and swashing around, and then forming into a whirling tornado! On top of that, there were animal neighbors being caught in the tornado!

“It’s a Jellybean Milk Sweet Taffy Cream Storm! No, no, wait,” He paused for a few seconds. “It’ a Jellybean Milk Sweet Taffy Cream Tornado!” Beardy exclaimed.
“What? Aren’t those only harmless storms?” Bunnie asked, confused.
“Yeah! I guess! It really is the first tornado! Come on! What are we waiting for? Let’s go to your basement!”

It was too late. The cracker door had flung open wide, and the tornado dragged the house a few feet and had knocked several cups and books down. Most importantly, Beardy noticed Bunnie had flown out!

“Dahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Beardy!!!!!!!! Helppppppppppppppp!” Bunnie screamed as she was also being part of the tornado.
“Bunnie!” Beardy tried to hold onto something but unfortunately ended up being caught in the tornado.
“Dahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! What’s going onnnnnnnnnnnnn!” Both were stuck in the delicious tornado. They now had no hope.

It was a long, dizzy, scary ride, as they felt like their hearts were beating a gazillion times a second. Desserts were covering them completely.

“Dahhhhh!” Bunnie’s screams kept going.
“Help!” shouted Beardy as he tried to flap his arms like a bird. It felt like the end seat of a giant Viking ride.

A second later, they were on a soft, fluffy, HUGE marshmallow cloud and the screams seemed to be over. Fortunately, they were no longer covered in desserts. When they landed, the desserts had also flung elsewhere.

“Beardy! Beardy! Where are you? Are you OK?” Bunnie was desperate to find Beardy even with her head plopped down in the marshmallow cloud.
“Bunnie, I’m OK. Are you? That was an insanely insane ride! I can’t believe we made it out! Oh, that was so crazy! It was the swingiest ride of my life! Oh, my point is, I’m so glad you’re safe! ”

Beardy was also relieved. In fact, he was so relieved that he didn’t care at all where he was. When Bunnie realized she was upside down, she slowly unburied herself from the cloud, bounced to, and they gave each other a cozy, warm hug to let each other know they were safe.

Then, they gazed up, looking at every corner of the interesting place. Above the enormous marshmallow cloud, there were lots and lots and lots of mini clouds, which seemed to be about 4 feet × 8 feet. The colors were incredible. Each mini cloud seemed to be in a different color and the best part was that they were all sweetly scented with a theme. Bunnie was especially into the ‘cookies & cream cloud’, which she had been staring at for the longest time. Even Beardy was interested, too.

“Beardy, this place is incredible!”
“I agree! Totally awesome! Are we safe, though? I mean, like we were in the air, flying crazy just a few seconds ago.”
“Exactly! Now we’ll have to stay here forever! And exactly why aren’t we falling? We’re just sitting on the clouds!” Bunnie was getting a bit worried.

 

CLOUR–DIAN!

Suddenly, a cloud blob (I guess that’s what you’d call it) that had a round, fluffy body reached out and said really sharply.
“What are you two up to, and how did you get past our entrance? What are you doing in Cloud Land?”
“Dahhh! A talking cloud blob!!” Bunnie shrieked and quickly backed away. Beardy was frozen in fear. They had never seen such a creature. Beardy didn’t get how someone could speak so sharply when his hands were so fluffy.

“Excuse me, what? I’m NOT a talking cloud BLOB! I’m a CLOURDIAN!”
“A what….?” Beardy asked in silence, still half-frozen.
“A Clour–dian!” there was an awkward long moment of silence after the last syllable.
Bunnie was quietly enjoying the marshmallow cloud behind their backs and hoped there would be no trouble.
“Sorry for shouting, it’s just that it’s impossible to get past our entrance. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll invite you both to the tea cloud and you can explain how you got here. I’m Larry,” the Clourdian spoke gently this time and handed his fluffy cloud hand for a handshake.
“I’m Beardy and this is my friend Bunnie.” Beardy reached out nervously but was quite happy with feeling Larry’s hand. It was the fluffiest thing ever.
“I’m Bunnie,” and she also took Larry’s hand.
“Follow me. Our airboard is right up there.”

The three walked rather quietly, enjoying the giant white fluffy marshmallow scented cloud as their feet sunk into it softly. The two had no clue what was going on and decided to stay quiet just in case. Larry seemed to have a watch and he typed: Visitors are here. Bunnie and Beardy. Bunny and Bear. Don’t freak out.

“This is the airboard I mentioned earlier,” Larry introduced, “It can bring you anywhere in Cloud Land. Each Clourdian has one. It’s more of a flying skateboard.”
“How do you fly with it? Like a skateboard snowboard?” Bunnie was really letting that curiosity out this time.
“Exactly. Now hop on!”

Larry started swishing through Cloud Land, saying “hi” to other Clourdians that were either on the mini clouds or on the airboards. They all seemed to say “I got your message” or “We haven’t had visitors for so long!” or “Oh these are the ones!” as they were trying to look for the tea room at the same time. Although Bunnie and Beardy were in a strange place, they always kept calm and told each other how nice it was not to have landed in a puddle of brownie batter mud. They were constantly trying to smell the delicious colorful clouds and loved staring at them. It felt like a dream gliding through this place and their hearts were racing. It was an adventure just being able to be there.

After a few minutes of exciting airboarding and cloud gazing, they were at the tea cloud. Larry introduced the little elegant cloud and warned them not to drop any expensive teacups. They didn’t get why Larry had mentioned that since you can’t really crack anything if you drop something on a cloud.

As soon as they stepped on the cloud, it felt like pure gold, and there were delicately painted flowers on the teacups on a neatly set tea table. They gently sat down for a sip of Mayberry tea. Larry started a long conversation.

“So,” he paused. “What happened? I also have a million other questions, but first, how on CLOUD did you get here?” he seemed very demanding, but in a friendly way.

Bunnie and Beardy told Larry about how their houses were blown away by the tornado, which was unusual since Beardy had experienced only harmless storms in the past. They also told him that no one had ever mentioned Cloud Land before. Larry was ashamed. He also looked a bit sugared (That’s what you say when Clourdians look pale since they are already white).

“Hey guys,” Larry said quietly, “we, yes, we Clourdians are responsible for EVERYTHING that happened. You know when sometimes you go to bed and you have a dream about Clourdians?”
Beardy nodded, totally agreeing to it and a bit confused.
“The dream happens every time we create the seed that grows into a village. And every village in the history of villages,” Larry admitted.
Those words sprung into Bunnie’s and Beardy’s minds as if a spring was bouncing in their minds.
“A few of the Clourdians were experimenting with a new village and then the machine that made the seeds broke accidentally. The seed was still in the testing stage and then the machine flung the seed. That’s why the jelly bean windstorm occurred. The seed wasn’t ready to be planted yet.”
Bunnie and Beardy were searching for words like “Really!” or “Wait, what?” Instead they just nodded and said “Oh. Woah.”

Suddenly, Larry’s watched beeped. He quickly excused himself and the watch read: The Miere is lost. Then, almost every single Clourdian started screaming hysterically “Help!” or “No!” or “It can’t be!” all at once. Larry was trying to be calm and relax himself, but he too failed.

“What’s going on?”
“The Miere is lost! Somebody stole it from Cloud Land! We have a super security system, so how? Who took it?” The two weren’t sure if Larry was talking to them or to himself.
“My mei?”
“No Bunnie. Mi – ere.”
“What’s that? And why exactly is everyone freaking out?!” Bunnie was freaking out, too, without knowing what the Miere was.
“It’s the most important book to all of Cloud Land. It contains the recipes for our seeds, the cure to help damaged villages, information on food supply, and important statistics of Cloud Land and all the villages we have created. Most importantly, all of Cloud Land and Clourdians are going to start disappearing if we don’t find the Miere in the next 2 hours! And whoever possesses the Miere will basically control the resources!”
“What?!” Bunnie was so loud that Beardy and Larry could hear her crystal-clearly even in the screaming crowd of Clourdians.

About a second later, there was an announcement. It was the head Clourdian, Fluff Nuff, the wisest, smartest, and oldest Clourdian. This was probably the first emergency announcement ever. “Every Clourdian remain calm, please,” he said over the microphone. So they all went silent. Surprisingly it didn’t take long. “I first found out the Miere was lost when I saw the protective glass it was in had been shattered. Somebody had broken into it – someone sneaky who could pass our security system. I can sense that someone from Charaloping Shill took it. Some creature that is probably small, quick, furry, and brown. Please bring the Miere back to Atrum Cloud. Head to Mt. Cotton Candy because our main exit is fading!”

Beardy and Bunnie gasped. Charaloping Shill was a place of injury. According to the legend, it was the home of the sinking monsters. They didn’t say a word because they didn’t want to frighten the Clourdians.

What is a Charalop? A Charalop is meant to be a play area that was made before Cupcake Village was formed. It is about 10 years old and has always remained mysterious. Charalops are extremely dangerous since stepping on the wrong tiles can cause injuries and damages. The most dangerous of them all is Charaloping Shill since the Charalop is made out of honey and stepping on the non-crusted honey can cause serious damage.

 

Delicious Disaster

They were all at the top of Mt. Cotton Candy which was completely covered with cotton candy snow. The snow sizzled softly on Bunnie’s tongue as she reached out for a snowflake. It tasted delicious even in the crisis. The thing Beardy and Bunnie didn’t get was who could be in Charaloping Shill or Cupcake Village. I mean, after all that destruction!

“Let’s go down!” a voice slightly echoed. With that, Bunnie, Beardy, and Larry started airboarding down. It was lovelier this time since the delicate snow enjoyed passing beside their faces. But the joy ended soon. When they arrived, the entire village was covered with whipped cream and peanut butter topped with fuchsia milk. Crackers were cracked and cookie crumbles were EVERYWHERE with colorful sprinkles and gooey honey. S’mores were melting all over the place and chiffon cakes were constantly raining as if there would be no tomorrow. Even while this craziness was happening, cream cheese was making everything extra sticky.

Anyway, the other Clourdians all tried to get out of the sticky chiffons, but something terribly awful happened. Larry and Beardy realized the other Clourdians had disappeared suddenly, including Bunnie!

“Bunnie!” Larry quickly heard some screaming and turned around, still trying to avoid the chiffons. It was too late. Bunnie and the other Clourdians were possibly under the messy covered village. There was no hope of finding them.
“Larry, what should we do?” Beardy tried to find them, already being in ‘Help-me-stage-one’.
“How should I know? But now we’ve got to find the Miere ourselves! That’s ridiculous! I mean, where are we going to find a furry creature?” Larry looked more anxious than ever.
“I’m not sure but let’s keep looking,” Beardy replied. So they did. They looked and looked and dodged chiffons. It wasn’t long before Larry got tired and decided to look for Charaloping Shill.
“Any idea where Charaloping Shill is?” he tried to echo his voice.
“I don’t know!” Beardy actually knew, but he was trying to hide it.
“Really?” he replied in a tone of voice to which no one could say no.
“I just don’t know?”
“Beardy, spill it out!”
“To be honest, oh, um, don’t freak out by the way. Charaloping Shill is dangerous and if something goes in there, it comes out damaged!” he raised his voice nervously.
“I’m trying not to freak out,” Larry said slowly as he tried to flip his airboard to dodge another chiffon. “Give me a few seconds to panic,” Larry paused, then started screaming.

After that, he seemed finally ready. “Beardy, do you have a plan?” Larry asked as they were approaching.
“Well, the plan? Go directly into the Charalop.”
Beardy lead Larry to the highest point where there were barely any more chiffons, and without a warning, he raced to the Charalop. They had got themselves all sticky with the honey.
A few minutes passed and the two were still there, trying to get themselves untangled.
“Couldn’t you have at least warned me it was made out of honey?” Larry was now frustrated with the honey and all the chiffons.
“Oops, sorry,” and there was Beardy, still trying to get the honey out of his fur.
Suddenly, a squirrel popped its head up.
“Dahhhhhhhh! Squirrel!” Larry shrieked which made Beardy turn his sticky head to him.

It was true. A squirrel! Yes it was a squirrel. They were so shocked. The squirrel seemed angry. “What is so interesting? Mind your own business!”

Beardy had never been so terrified. There was a squirrel. Yes, a squirrel. To the Cupcake Village community, squirrels were seen as no-mannered, disrespectful, mean animals.

“Hey, you!” Beardy shouted at the squirrel. He was still shaking.
“What!” it shrieked.
“I live here and my village has been destroyed. And what are you doing here?” Beardy screamed at the top of his lungs in the messy honey.
The squirrel seemed frightened, and so was Larry.
“Well, I live here. NO ONE ELSE DOES!” the squirrel had really had enough.
“No, I do!”
“No, you don’t!”
The quarrel went on and on and on and on until Larry finally decided to stop them.
“Stop it, you two!” He tried to speak as clearly as possible under the honey.
“Look, I know it’s weird, but squirrels live under the Charalop. We live here so you can’t kick us out. And now, we have the Miere, so you will never ever find us again!”
This squirrel was way too confident, Beardy thought.
Larry was frightened.
In a trembling voice, Beardy said “Is that it?” He barely got the three words out.
“Yeah, it is! And now our WHOLE family, the Nibbles and the Leaverettes will be all safe! We need this book to live, so bye!” The little squirrel was so confused that it rushed back into the Charalop.

“Follow that squirrel!” Beardy exclaimed.
“No! It’s too late!” Larry started fading. The left part of him was starting to disappear.
“Larry! No!”

This meant it was all up to Beardy. He took a deep breath and raced his airboard into the gooey Charalop. It was an impossible ride. He chased the squirrel around and around until he was dizzy and got hold of its tail!

“Ok, Ok, I’ll explain!” the squirrel panicked.
Beardy snatched the Miere and handed it to the very slowly fading Larry.
“I’m not giving you a chance!” Beardy stormed at the squirrel.
“No! Wait!” the squirrel wailed.
“Ok, fine! What is it?” he, too, had had enough.
“We squirrels need it! It’s the thing that keeps us together. If you take that! Oh, if you take that, our family will disappear!”
“What?” Beardy was so confused that he turned to Larry.
“Larry, what’s going on? I mean, what?”

 

With Peanut

The three started a conversation which had some interesting, unknown details. The squirrels were the ones who were living in the Charalop so they would be safe. They only had a budget of 10 woodlings (that’s about 9.94 US dollars) a month for groceries for 57 squirrels. None of them ever got to live properly as their cover for the winter was only a leaf. They, too, needed the Miere. They were hoping to find the Miere and were willing to read its magical recipes. Larry and Beardy felt so sorry for squirrels.

Larry’s last word before he faded were, “I see, squirrel. Well, why don’t you tell our head Clourdian? His name is Fluff Nuff. I’m sure he’ll understand…” Larry ended the conversation softly and faded.
“No, Larry!”
“Ok, squirrel. I hope the best for all of us, so why don’t we work together and go find Atrum cloud?” Beardy spoke softly and looked at the squirrel with love.
“If you call me Peanut, I’ll go!”

Beardy was glad to see the squirrel so cheerful in this difficult situation. Peanut hopped on Beardy’s airboard and they swashed up, avoiding the Chiffons and made it up to Cloud Land.
Then the squirrel whispered, “Beardy, thanks for helping me!”
“You’re welcome.”
Beardy and the squirrel were glad to be closer.

Finally, they reached Cloud Land. It was a disaster. Every Clourdian was half gone, except Fluff Nuff. There were screams and panic. Beardy quickly found Fluff Nuff and he was amazed at the crystal clear fluffy cloud.

“Ah, I’ve been expecting you, Beardy. I have a feeling that things are bad down there. Oh, and who’s this? A squirrel?”
“Yes. It is bad, very bad!” Beardy quickly handed the Miere to Fluff Nuff.
“Thank you, Beardy! Thank you. Oh, the cover is still smooth and delicate as the finest acorn silk and, oh, look! The paper is still as rich as the golden leaf!” He was so glad and happy that he gave Beardy a quick fluffy hug and then quickly placed the Miere where it belonged.

Soon, there was a flash of beaming bright light that started at the Miere and reached all of Cloud Land. The disaster had come to an end. There was a moment of long silence. Every single Clourdian was back on Atrum Cloud again (Atrum Cloud is the biggest cloud where the cloud Fluff Nuff lives). They all started cheering for Beardy. Even Bunnie was there!

“Everyone, please! Calm down!” Beardy calmed them down.
The cheering and the fluffy hands started going down with confused faces.
“It wasn’t me. It was the help of this little squirrel.”
Everyone started whispering and being all like “Whoa!” “What?” “What’s a squirrel?” and all that.
Beardy raised Peanut up on his paw. “Listen, he has something important to tell you.”
Peanut started explaining the reason he took the Miere because his family needed help and couldn’t afford basic necessities. He also told them that the seed had dropped on the squirrel’s home and the animals started moving in. His family had to move to the Charalops to avoid being kicked out. Peanut apologized once more for taking the Miere.
As soon as he was done talking, Fluff Nuff made an announcement. “My dear squirrel, we are thankful that you have returned the Miere. We apologize for the fact our seed was dropped accidentally. Your home will never ever again be disturbed.”
“Oh thank you! But how will we survive?”
“That is why we have decided to help you and supply you with food. After all, we don’t want any of our friends starving, do we?” the squirrel gave Fluff Nuff a big hug. “Little squirrel, what’s your name?”
“Peanut Treedance.”
“Well, Peanut, would you consider a party with all of us?”
“Yes! Oh Yes! Yes! Yes!”

 

All Together

So there it happened. The Treedancers, the Nibbles, and the Leaverettes and all of the Clourdians had an amazing party, not to mention that the Cupcake Village animals all had an enormous outdoor sleepover. There was a giant feast, a giant pillow fight, fishing sprinkles in the strawberry river, and everything you could imagine in a party. In fact, the party lasted for three days! There was a huge shooting star watch and it was absolutely splendid. The best part was that returning the Miere upgraded the Cupcake Village and now each house had a second floor and a sturdier structure. The squirrel families were all happy and everyone came to peace. All became the best of friends. Cupcake Village became an amazing place and the friends promised never to leave each other alone.

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