The Sweet-Treat Spies
It was two days before Christmas.
Thump. Thwack. Thud!
Malcolm, who slept in a little room above his dad's bakery, woke up with a
start. Something heavy had just landed on the roof above his bedroom.
"Not again!" groaned Malcolm, who had a pretty good idea what it might be. It
definitely wasn't burglars, and it was much too early for Santa. It had to be
spies! Sweet-treat spies—sneaky thieves who were desperate to get their
hands on his dad's secret recipe books.
It happened every Christmas. Malcolm's dad was an award-winning baker,
famous for his fabulous creations. His pastry was perfect. His cakes were
incredible. And his muffins were marvelous. But best of all were his
Christmas gingerbread cookies. They were truly mind-blowing!
Every Christmas he started making his famous festive flavors. There was
Bubblegum-and-Brussels-Sprout flavor—a green gingerbread man that you
could chew for hours. Festive Firecrackers exploded in your mouth, Jingle-
Bell Gingers actually jangled when you bit into them, and Frosted Snowmen
turned into Popsicles in your mouth. His best-selling cookies were the
famous Glitter Gobs—they glowed and sparkled like real Christmas trees!
People came from miles around to buy them. And every baker in the country
was desperate to sneak a peek at Malcolm's dad's recipe books, to see how
he created them.
And that was the problem . . .
Thump, Thump, Thump.
Malcolm listened. Whoever it was on the roof, by the sound of it, they were
now making their way toward the chimney . . . He sighed. Sometimes he
wished that his dad had a different job. Then he wouldn't have to spend all of
his time spotting the sweet-treat spies!
Two weeks before, Malcolm had discovered one pretending to be a mouse
catcher. The sneaky spy had knocked on the bakery door.
"We've had a report that there are mice in this bakery!" he'd said to
Malcolm's dad. "I've come to catch them!"
Malcolm wasn't so sure. There was something fishy about him. The mouse
catcher didn't seem to be looking for mice at all—he was much more
interested in the tray of Glitter Gobs that Malcolm's dad was frosting.
Malcolm decided to test him. He got Monty—his pet mouse—and quietly
dropped him onto the bakery floor.
It didn't take long for Monty to work his magic . . .
"Ahhhhh!" squealed the man as Monty's head popped out of a container of
flour. "A MOUSE!"
The man hopped onto a chair, dropping his notepad, his pen . . . and the
SECRET CAMERA that he'd stuffed up his sweater! He was swiftly escorted
out of the bakery.
A week later, it happened again.
A window cleaner appeared at the bakery window, standing on a long ladder.
Malcolm's dad didn't notice. He just continued putting the sugar jangles into
his Jingle-Bell Gingers.
But Malcolm spotted him. He watched the man clean the same section of
glass, over and over again . . . And then, when he thought no one was
looking, he reached into his bucket and pulled out a video camera!
"Hey!" yelled Malcolm, but the spy didn't notice. So Malcolm picked up a big
blob of dough and threw it at the window. Thwack!
The man got such a fright that he fell off his ladder.
THUMP, THUMP, THUMP.
And now with only two days to go until Christmas, it sounded like the spies
were about to strike again.
Malcolm frowned. Had the long-laddered window cleaner gotten an even
longer ladder? Or had the mouse catcher decided that he wasn't scared of
bakery mice after all?
Malcolm slipped out of bed. He was going to have to find out!
The sneaky thief had somehow managed to get down the chimney, straight
into the bakery.
Malcolm crept down the stairs. He could hear someone moving around,
bumping into things. He flicked on the light switch. And then he froze.
Standing in the middle of the bakery, facing away from Malcolm, was a
familiar figure wearing a red-and-white outfit with giant black boots. It looked
just like . . .
"Santa?" whispered Malcolm in astonishment.
But it couldn't be Santa. It wasn't Christmas Eve.
And then Malcolm spotted something else—something awful. "Hey, that's
my dad's recipe book!" he yelled.
The figure turned. And Malcolm almost fell over.
It wasn't Santa at all. It was a little gray-haired old lady.
"This isn't what it looks like," she said in a small voice.
"It looks like you're a sneaky cheat," said Malcolm, "dressed up like Santa."
"I'm not really pretending to be him," she said glumly. "Santa Claus is my
husband, and I had to dress up in his clothes to get the reindeer to bring me
here—they only fly for him, you see . . ."
Malcolm gasped. Could this really be Mrs. Claus? Or was it just another
sneaky spy trick?
The lady sighed. "You see, last Christmas my husband came home from his
travels raving about the wonderful gingerbread Christmas-tree cookie that you
left out for him. He said that they sparkled and glowed like real trees . . ."
Malcolm nodded. Everyone loved the Glitter Gobs.
"Well, ever since then I've been trying to bake the gingerbread cookies that
he described. I'm a very good cook, and I've tried my hardest, but I just can't
figure out how you get them to sparkle." She looked very glum. "And I really
wanted to make them for him as a Christmas present . . . so I decided to
come and take a quick peek at your dad's recipe book."
She hung her head in shame.
"But you can't just steal recipes from people, even if you have a good
reason," said Malcolm angrily.
"You're right, son!" Malcolm's dad had appeared in the doorway.
Mrs. Claus bit her lip. "I wouldn't blame you if you called the police. But the
trouble is, if I don't get the reindeer back home to Santa, no one will get any
presents this year."
"You mean Santa's reindeer are parked on the roof?" Malcolm's eyes were as
round as saucers.
Mrs. Claus nodded glumly.
"Look, I'll make a deal with you, Mrs. Claus," said Malcolm's dad. "Why don't
I give you the biggest box of Glitter Gobs you've ever seen? You can whisk
them back to the North Pole tonight, just in time for Christmas . . . and we'll
say no more about your little visit."
Mrs. Claus gasped. "You won't call the police?"
He shook his head. "Perhaps in return you might give Malcolm and me a
quick whiz around the sky in the sleigh, though."
Mrs. Claus grinned. "Okay, you've got a deal! Grab yourselves some warm
coats—you're in for the ride of your life."
Outside, snow was starting to fall.
Malcolm and his dad stood shivering on the sidewalk, waiting for Mrs. Claus
to get the team of reindeer.
"Do you really think she's Santa's wife?" asked Malcolm, suddenly
suspicious. "Maybe she's just another sneaky spy, making a quick getaway."
But before his dad could answer, there was a thunder of hooves and a huge
gust of wind. Then a giant shelf of snow splattered down on them from above.
"Wowzers!" breathed Malcolm, when he could see again. Standing before
them was the most amazing sight that Malcolm had ever seen.
It looked very different from the colorful sleighs that he'd seen in storybooks.
It was enormous, big and black, with a long line of huge reindeer that
pounded the ground, snorting in the moonlight.
Mrs. Claus helped them clamber in, and then they were off, the wind in their
hair and their hearts in their mouths as they climbed straight up into the
It was the most exciting—and the scariest—moment of Malcolm's life!
"Hey, Malcolm," bellowed his dad over the wind, "this gives me a great idea!
Next Christmas, I'm going to make a new gingerbread cookie. I'll call it the
Racing Reindeer—it will be a cookie that can actually fly."
Malcolm rolled his eyes. "Oh, brother!" he muttered. The sweet-treat spies
would love them!