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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 26th day of Sleeping, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 149 > Short Stories > Reading Lessons

Reading Lessons

by playmobil_is_my_life

On Market Street in Neopia lived a red Lupe named Jake. He loved to eat chocolate Chias, chase Cybunnies and lounge around his Neohome.

      He and his owner, Ginger, had just moved into their new house. It was fairly small, but since it was only the two of them they could manage easily.

      Jake sat out on the front lawn of his Neohome when a blue Lenny came out of a house next to Jake's. She smiled and waved at him while crossing the lawn,

      "Just moved in?"

      "Yeah."

      "I'm Phoebe," the Lenny said and Jake introduced himself. "Why don't you come inside my house? I'll show you my room."

      "Okay." Jake followed Phoebe inside her Neohome. Phoebe's room was beautiful -- the regal oak wood furniture was nice and the cream colored rugs looked elegant, but what really caught Jake's eye were all of Phoebe's books.

      She had hundreds of books stacked on her desk, or put neatly on her bookshelf. Jake had never seen so many books in his life.

      Phoebe smiled shyly when she noticed where he was looking, "I love to read, as you can tell." She picked up a book from the top of a stack. It was called Lovely Lennys. "This book is my absolute favorite. What's your favorite book?"

      "Oh," said Jake, taken aback, "I don't read much."

      Phoebe looked as if she had just seen Dr. Sloth, "You don't know how to read?"

      "No, I can read," said Jake, shifting uncomfortably, "I just don't like to read."

      "But reading is wonderful!" Phoebe protested. "It allows you to put yourself in an imaginary situation where you can be a hero, villain, or a Grundo on Kreludor or on the peak of Terror Mountain. Sometimes I read mystery books, like Shoyru Mysteries or when I want to dream I'm on Kreludor, I read Galactic Adventures or when I'm just in the mood for a good laugh I pick up my Quiggle Joke Book and read that."

      "I don't really like to imagine," Jake told Phoebe.

      "Maybe I could give you a few reading lessons."

      "Lessons?" Jake echoed.

      Phoebe picked up a book off of the shelf and handed it to Jake. She said, "This book is called Back in Peaceful Times and it is about life on Kreludor before the wars started. You know about the war between Xarthab and Zorlix, right?"

      Jake nodded. True, he knew about it, but not much.

      "Go ahead and have a seat."

      Jake frowned, but he obeyed. He took a seat on the edge of Phoebe's bed and Phoebe crossed to the center of the room. "Now close your eyes." Jake sighed and closed his eyes.

      Phoebe opened the book and began to read, "The spaceship landed on Kreludor in year 4. A stream of Neopets climbed out and looked tentatively around. The air was cool and Neopia's moon looked so empty. It was a feeling like you were the only Neopet left in the world. Moon rocks were scattered on the ground and chunks of Kreludan metal lay flat…"

      Jake smiled a little. He loved the way that Phoebe read. She had such a clear voice that was soothing to hear.

      "At first there was no form of Neopian life. Xarthab hopped out of the ship, brushing off the moon dust that rose up from the ground." She looked up at him and asked, "Can you see a picture in your head?"

      Jake nodded.

      "That's why I love to read." Phoebe smiled and said, "Have you ever been to the shops?"

      "Yeah."

      "Then come on," Phoebe tugged at his paw, "I want to show you something."

      Jake knew that Lupes and Lennies weren't usually friends. Lupes were the kind of Neopet that would chase Lennies. But Jake agreed to follow Phoebe and they walked out of the house. They made their way down the street and into the shops.

      "What are we looking for?" Jake asked.

      "See that place over there?" Phoebe pointed in the direction of the Food Shop.

     "The Food Shop? I love that place!" A grin crept across his face, but he found that this was not the right shop.

     "Jake, I meant that shop." The Lupe looked where Phoebe was pointing. It was a red, square shop that was shaped like a giant book.

     "The book shop?"

     "Yeah, it's great!" Jake followed Phoebe inside. All around him on hundreds of shelves were… books, and so many of them. Jake had never seen that many books in his life. Phoebe picked up a copy of Know your Motes. She sighed and said, "Another one of my favorites."

     To be honest, Jake had never been in the bookshop. "Wow, check out this book!" Jake exclaimed, picking up a thin book with a vivid cover and started flipping through it.

     "Jake, that's a comic book."

     "Yeah, and it's the new issue." Jake's grin slid off his face when Phoebe frowned at him. "So, what are we looking for?"

     "Hmm," Phoebe's wingtips grazed her chin in though. She spotted a book on one of the shelves and pulled it out, "Oh! This one is marvelous." She showed him the cover: Don't Call Me Cute. "It's just about the best story in the world. This one costs eight thousand."

     "Eight thousand Neopoints?" Jake asked, bewildered.

     "Yeah," said Phoebe, as if this were no big deal. "Reading lesson number one: A book can't be judged on how much it costs. Like this one," She held up a book titled: Saving Your Neopoints. "This one costs nine thousand and I found it quite dull."

     Jake just couldn't see how a book that cost nine thousand Neopoints could be dull.

     Phoebe ran to the bank five minutes later to withdraw the Neopoints she needed for her purchase. When they were walking home, she pressed a book into Jake's paw and said, "Here." Jake looked at the cover A Tale of Two Lupes. "You'll love this story. That's why I bought it for you."

     "Oh," said Jake, not really knowing what to say. He didn't really want it, but he also didn't want to hurt the Lenny's feelings. So he just said, "thank you."

     "Reading lesson number two: you don't want to begin with the hardest book, or the longest book in Neopia. Stick with something simple. That's why I thought you'd like A Tale of Two Lupes."

     "I do like it," Jake lied and Phoebe beamed at him.

***

Jake was sitting at the dinner table that evening, finishing up another Cheesy Mashed Potato. He felt kind of guilty accepting Phoebe's present, especially when he knew that he would probably never read it. He had no clue how much Phoebe spent on it… maybe it cost nine thousand Neopoints!

     "Something bothering you, Jake?" Jake's owner Ginger asked from across the table.

     "Not really," lied Jake, "I was just thinking about Phoebe."

     "The Lenny next door?"

     "Yeah. She loves to read. Her whole room is filled with books. She has enough books to start her own bookshop. And…" Jake stopped, carefully choosing his next words, "she bought me a book today. But I feel kind of guilty because I know I won't read it."

     "Maybe if you do read it, you'll get into reading more and it won't be as hard for you," Ginger said, her blue eyes twinkling.

     "Reading isn't hard for me," Jake protested, "I just don't see any sense in it. And now Phoebe's giving me these reading lessons."

     "Nothing wrong with that," Ginger finished her last bite of potato. "You could do with taking a leaf out of Phoebe's book." She laughed at her own joke.

     Jake scowled. He wasn't in the mood for jokes. And if he was, he could just borrow the Quiggle Joke Book from Phoebe.

     ***

     From that first day, Jake and Phoebe really hit it off. When Phoebe wasn't reading, they would play in the park or eat lunch at the Pizzaroo.

     Jake enjoyed it when Phoebe read to him. As part of his "lessons", she read him a short story every day from the book Popular Neopian Stories.

     At first Jake was reluctant to sit and listen to another story, but these ones were quite different. Some of them made him want to cry, while others made him laugh.

***

Weeks passed and Jake became more and more eager to hear all of Phoebe's stories. But one day when Jake knocked on Phoebe's door, the Lenny answered with a frown,

     "Sorry, Jake. I can't read to you today."

     Jake couldn't hide his disappointment, "Why not?"

     "I'm going to visit my brother, who lives on Mystery Island. I'll be gone for a month or two, but we can read when I get back."

     "But what am I going to do without you?" Jake frowned.

     "Oh, I'm sure you'll find something to help pass the time."

***

And that was the last that Jake saw of Phoebe. She left early the next morning. Jake flopped down on his Fresh Bamboo Bed. He missed Phoebe already.

     Two weeks later, Jake started to clean his room. He straightened the stuff in his closet, picked up any scraps of paper on the floor and pulled everything out from under his bed.

     The book A Tale of Two Lupes slid out from under Jake's paw. It was the book that Phoebe bought for him. Jake sat down slowly, examining the cover. It still looked brand new.

     He remembered all of the pictures that he had seen when Phoebe read to him, and how each story made him feel something different. Jake gasped. He knew what he wanted: it was the desire to feel the emotions that only a book could give.

     Thanks for the reading lessons, Phoebe, Jake thought. Without hesitation, he turned to the front page and began to read.

The End

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