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The Great Mouse Mystery

How would my daughter ever get over her lost doll?

Photo of the missing stuffed animal, Bianca.
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Missing: One mouse named Bianca. Wearing a furry blue cap and matching shawl. If found, please return to heartbroken little girl.

Bianca was my 8-year-old daughter Caroline’s beloved doll, her favorite mouse detective from the Disney movie The Rescuers. Every morning, as I combed Caroline’s hair, she’d comb Bianca’s fur. Wherever she went, Bianca followed–from the dinner table to her bicycle basket.

Even on a weekend trip to Chicago. That’s how we lost her. The morning of our departure, as we packed the car, Caroline set Bianca down on a nearby garbage can. We were almost home before she realized she’d left Bianca behind.

I called the hotel every day for a week, wrote to garbage collection companies, did everything I could to find her. I thought we could buy another, but

Caroline wouldn’t be fooled. “I don’t want a new one, I want her!” I offered her a Raggedy Ann or the latest Malibu Barbie, but Caroline pushed them away. “No,” she said. “They’re not Bianca.”

Anytime we passed a toy store, Caroline peeked inside just in case her Bianca was “visiting friends.” And she never forgot Bianca in her evening prayers. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that some prayers go unanswered.

A year later, our family was on a road trip down to Kentucky. We stopped at King’s Island amusement park in Cincinnati along the way. Caroline had no interest in the rides–she grabbed my hand and tugged me straight to the toy store on the park grounds.

Caroline wandered toward the stuffed animals, determined. I sighed. “Mommy! Come here!” she yelled. I found her in the back, surrounded by puzzles and board games. “Look up!” she said, eyes wide.   

An old stuffed animal grinned down at me from the shelf. One that looked like it’d been sitting there for ages. Dull and gray with a furry blue cap and tattered shawl. Someone had tied a cloth bandage around its right leg, like it had been injured.

My Bianca!” Caroline said, triumphantly.

I wasn’t about to tell her it was impossible. “Okay, okay,” I said, trying to suppress a smile. This Bianca did look like it had been on quite a journey

Hmm. No price tag on it. I led Caroline to the register. “How much?” I asked the sales clerk.

She looked confused. “Where’d you find this?”

“With the puzzles,” I said.

“I don’t know where this came from,” she said. “We don’t sell this doll.” She handed Bianca back to Caroline. “Looks like she belongs to you.”

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