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copyright 1999, Lois June Wickstrom

Oliver and the Moving Monster

by Lois June Wickstrom

Oliver lives with a Mommy and a Daddy and a goldfish. Oliver likes to pretend that he is a great explorer.

Sometimes Oliver digs for gold deep in mountain caves.

Sometimes he discovers sunken treasure beneath the ocean waves.

Sometimes he rides across grassy plains on the back of buffalo.

And sometimes he trudges with dogs and sled through deep Alaska

Always he comes home to his mommy, his daddy, his goldfish, and his nice familiar house.

One day, when Oliver came home from school, his mother and father were both waiting for him. His mother said, "Your daddy and I have new jobs. These new jobs are in a new city, a thousand miles away. We're going to move. And we want you to help plan our moving party." 

Oliver stamped his foot and said, "I don't want to move. I like living here." 

"I like living here, too," said Mommy, sitting down beside
Oliver. "But I think we'll like living in the new place too." 
She hugged Oliver. He made his arms stiff and scowled at her.

That night, Oliver went to bed angry. And the Moving Monster came in his dreams. The Moving Monster had six arms and four legs. And in no time at all, the Moving Monster picked up all of Oliver's toys and put them into a big cardboard box in the corner of his room. In his dream, Oliver screamed, "Stop!" But the Moving Monster didn't listen. Oliver was angrier than ever.

In the morning, Oliver looked around his room. His shelves were empty. His toy box was empty. And he couldn't find his skates anywhere. Then he saw the big cardboard box, just like the one he'd seen in his dream. He went over to it and lifted the lid.  There were all his toys, just like he'd dreamed.

Oliver said, "I'll show that Moving Monster who's boss." He dug his arms deeply into the box and felt for the round wheels of his skates. He felt the soft ear of his teddy bear and pulled him out of the box. Then he felt the hard corner of his wooden train engine. He lifted that out of the box, too. He felt the knobby handle of his top, the curve of his hoop, and the pushy roundness of his big rubber ball. He shoved them to the side of the box so he could see the bottom. Finally, at the very bottom, he saw his skates!

He took his skates down the stairs, through the box-filled
living room, out onto the front porch. His favorite chair,
where he always sat to tie his skates, was gone. The Moving Monster had taken it. Oliver sat on the steps and said, "I'll show that Moving Monster who's boss. He won't stop me. I'll put my skates on right where I am." And he did.

Then he skated over to Fran's house. Fran was in her front
yard, picking strawberries underneath her old scarecrow.

Fran said, "I heard you were moving. I don't want you to go."

"I don't want to go," said Oliver. "Can you help me stay?"

Fran thought. Then she said, "I don't know how."

Oliver said, "I'm sure I could stay if we can stop the Moving Monster."

"What's the Moving Monster?" asked Fran.

"The Moving Monster has four legs and six arms. He comes in my room at night and puts all my toys into a big box. This morning I found my skates at the bottom of the box. And I couldn't find my favorite chair at all."

Fran thought again. Then she said, "I've got it! Tonight, you
hide in the box and when the Moving Monster tries to put things into it, you jump up and yell, 'Boo!'"

That night, Oliver hid in the box. He was uncomfortable. The handle from the top poked him. The corner of his wooden engine jabbed him in the side. And his rubber ball wouldn't stay still for a pillow. But, he was tired, and couldn't stay awake.

Suddenly a light shone right in his eyes. He didn't remember to shout "Boo!" He yelled, "Mommy! Daddy! Help me! I'm scared."

And there in his room were his mommy and his daddy.

Daddy hugged him and held him close.

"What's wrong?" asked Mommy. "Why were you in that box?"

Oliver looked around the room. "Didn't you see him?" he asked.  "The Moving Monster was here, putting all my things into this box."

"Were you in the box to scare him away?" asked Daddy.

"Yes," said Oliver.

"That was very brave," said Mommy.

"You can go to bed now," said Daddy. "I don't think he'll be back tonight."

In the morning, Oliver looked around his room. His toys were still where he had left them.

He went downstairs. He saw right away -- the Moving Monster had been there. The living room had even more boxes. And all the bookshelves were empty.

After breakfast, he put dog biscuits in his pockets. Then he
went out to the porch and tied on his skates. "I'll show that
Moving Monster who's boss," he said. "I'll find a way to stop him." Then he skated down the block to play with the new puppy.

Oliver reached through the fence and petted the puppy's head.  Then he said, "Here, pup. Have a munchy." He gave the puppy a
biscuit. The puppy chewed the biscuit. Then she wagged her tail and licked her lips. 

Oliver remembered the old shaggy dog who used to play in this yard. When Oliver first met the old shaggy dog, the dog had looked big and scary, like the Moving Monster. But when Oliver fed him a biscuit he became as friendly as a puppy. That gave Oliver another idea. He would tame the Moving Monster, just like he'd tamed the big old shaggy dog. 

Before he went to bed that night, Oliver filled his pajama
pockets with dog biscuits. And in the middle of the night, when he heard the Moving Monster's heavy footsteps coming into his room, he was ready. "Here Monster, have a munchy," he called.

The Moving Monster came in and sat on Oliver's bed, just like his Mommy did when she read him a story. He took a biscuit in each of his six hands and popped them all into his mouth. He chewed them and licked his lips, just like the puppy.

Then the Moving Monster said, "I'd like to be your friend."

Oliver said, "You can be my friend if you stop putting my things in boxes. I don't want to move."

"I can be your friend," said the Moving Monster. "And I can stop putting things in boxes. But I can't stop your family from moving."

"Why can't you help us stay here?" asked Oliver.

"I'm a Moving Monster. The only thing I know how to do is put things in boxes in one house and take them out in another."

Oliver surprised himself by asking, "Would you show me some of the places you've moved? And bring my mom and dad along, too?" 

"Where would you like to go?" asked the Moving Monster. "We can be there as fast as you name it."

"I'd like to see Cape Canaveral where rockets blast into  space.
I'd even like to visit the Lunar Landing Base."

"I want to go to the Kentucky Derby and watch the horses race.
Then I want to pet the horses and let them lick my face."

"I want to go to Carlsbad Caverns deep underground
where bats and stalagmites and stalactites can be found."

"I want to go to Bryce Canyon and climb a hoodoo.
I want to see the red rock arches. Don't you?"

"I want to go to Yellowstone and be splashed by a geyser.
I want to see the deer and elk and maybe a bison."

"I want to go to the La Brea Tar Pits that bubble and ooze.
I want to see the dinosaur bones and the icky black goos."

"And when you're done seeing all that," said the Moving  Monster. "There's one more place I want you to see.

It's in the park by your house, in the hollow oak tree."

Oliver stood in the cool shady hollow and watched a squirrel hiding her nuts. He touched the soft green moss beside a cold damp stone. He turned to the Moving Monster and said, "I like this place, too. And I don't want to leave. I've got this tree and Fran and the puppy to feed. I won't move. You can't make me go. I'll stay here by this tree, come rain or come snow."

The Moving Monster sat down beside Oliver and patted his shoulder. "You liked the geysers, the hoodoos, the bats and the bones. You can find things you like, anywhere you call home."

"But why do I have to move?" asked Oliver.

"Your mom and your dad have new jobs far away. 
They'll find a home where you can be happy and play."

"That's true," said his mother. "We know what you like
Our new home will have a place for your bear and your bike."

"What's more," said his dad, hugging Oliver close
We'll move there together with the ones we love most."

Then Oliver said, "I'd still like to stay.
But I've had fun in all those places, today."

Oliver smiled at the Moving Monster. "Take me back to my room with my bed and my bear. It's time I help pack the things that are there."

"Have you thought of a game for our moving party?" asked Daddy.

"Yes," said Oliver. "The Moving Monster Game. You have to talk about a place you want to go."

"Where do you want to go?" asked Mommy.

"Lot's of places," said Oliver. "Places where I can have
adventures, and always come home to you two."

His mommy hugged him and he didn't make his arms stiff. He hugged his mommy, and his daddy joined in.