The Times Square subway station was busy.
Tucker Mouse watched from his home in the drainpipe.
He watched busy people hurrying by.
Tucker watched and waited.
Tucker waited for people to drop things.
A button from a coat.
Sprinkles from an ice cream cone.
A wrapper from a stick of gum.
Tucker collected all these things—and more!
Tucker loved his collection.
Most of all, he loved coins.
Pennies. Nickels. Dimes. Quarters.
Tucker had a stack of coins in his drainpipe.
It was a tidy little life savings for a mouse.
Tucker knew that sound.
It was a coin hitting the floor.
A man in the shoeshine store had dropped a penny.
The penny swirled and rolled, and rolled and swirled, before it landed behind the shoeshine booth.
The man could not reach the penny.
It was in a space that was too small for a human hand.
But Tucker knew the space was
just the right size for him.
Tucker waited until the station and the store got less busy.
Then he ran across the way, slipped behind the shoeshine booth, and grabbed the shiny penny.
Suddenly, it was very dark.
The shoeshine store had closed!
Tucker looked for a way out.
There was just a thin crack under the door.
There were no holes in the walls.
There were no holes in the ceiling.
Tucker was trapped!
Tucker waited for his friend Harry Cat to come home.
When he saw Harry,
“Help me, Harry!”
Harry was surprised to see Tucker across the way in the store.
“Tucker, why are you in the shoeshine store?” asked Harry.
“I know that!” shouted Tucker.
He held up the penny.
“Ah,” said Harry. “I understand.”
Harry jumped up to see if he could open the door, but the door was locked tight.
Harry saw a sign on the door. The sign read:
Harry came up with a plan. “Tucker?” asked Harry.
“Yes, Harry?” said Tucker.
“Do you see any food in there?” asked Harry.
“Not a crumb,” said Tucker,
“and I am getting hungry.”
“I’ll be back in a minute,” said Harry.
Harry found thin pieces of a sandwich and slid them under the door.
Once Tucker’s belly was full, Harry told him what the sign said.
“TWO WEEKS?” shouted Tucker.
“I’ll die of hunger!”
“No, you won’t’” said Harry.
“I can feed you every night when the station gets quiet.”
“But I’ll die from boredom’” cried Tucker.
“And I’ll be lonely’” he said softly.
“Don’t worry, I am going to get you out’” said Harry as he ran off to get help.
It felt like a very long time to Tucker, but Harry was only gone for a little while.
He came back with their friends, Lulu Pigeon and Ned Squirrel.
Lulu tried, but she couldn’t pick the lock with her beak.
“Ooo ooo ooo’” said Lulu.
“That’s quite a mousetrap.”
Harry, Ned, and Lulu PUSHED against the door.
It didn’t budge.
“We’ll have to think of something else,” said Harry.
It was late.
Everyone was too tired to think.
Tucker looked at Harry in the drainpipe.
Harry looked at Tucker in the store.
“Don’t worry,” said Harry.
“I am going to get you out.”
The next day, Harry still didn’t know what to do.
He watched as Mr. Smedley stopped by the Bellinis’ newsstand.
Every Sunday, Mr. Smedley leaned over the counter to tell Papa Bellini about the latest opera he had seen.
Mr. Smedley and Papa Bellini loved opera.
They loved it the way
Tucker loved coins.
Harry noticed that one of Mr. Smedley’s shoes was untied.
He thought about this.
Without a shoelace,
Mr. Smedley might trip.
Would a missing shoelace be an “emergency”?
Would it get Papa Bellini to open the shoeshine store? Harry decided to see.
On quiet cat paws, Harry crept up to the newsstand.
With one curved claw, Harry tugged gently.
He looked up.
Mr. Smedley hadn’t noticed a thing.
Harry gave another little tug.
And another. And another.
Harry kept tugging until the shoelace was free!
Harry grabbed the shoelace and raced back to the drainpipe.
As Mr. Smedley said good-bye to Papa Bellini, he turned and … walked right out of his shoe!
Papa Bellini and Mr. Smedley scratched their heads.
“Don’t worry’” said Papa Bellini.
“I have the key to the shoeshine store. You can pay me for a new pair of shoelaces.”
Papa opened the shoeshine store to get Mr. Smedley a new pair of shoelaces.
No one but Harry saw a little mouse with a penny scurry in a hurry across the station.
No one but Harry got the biggest hug a little mouse could possibly give.
“You got me out!” shouted Tucker.
“I told you I would!” said Harry.
Mr. Smedley and Papa Bellini never knew what happened to Mr. Smedley’s shoelace.
They never knew that it became part of a collection in a drainpipe.
And Mr. Smedley never knew how a penny got into his shoe the next time he visited the Bellinis’ newsstand.
He never knew that it was one little mouse’s big
Text copyright © 2011 by Thea Feldman. Illustrations copyright © 2011 by Olga and Aleksey Ivanov.