Mungo and the Enchanted Land of Paper

by Diana Lee

“What a mess!” said Mother Mouse. She frowned at the pile of shredded paper on the floor. “Mungo, don’t destroy paper. If you’re bored, go out and play.”

“Why are you so upset? It’s just paper,” said Mungo. He left his home and went to find something fun to do.

Mungo wandered aimlessly until he saw a tunnel. “I wonder where this leads to,” he said as he entered. The tunnel was slippery and opened into a fast moving river.

mungo Peeking out, Mungo saw a boat made of newspaper wedged among the nearby rocks. “This should be interesting,” he said. He scurried over the rocks and climbed into the boat. As he boarded, the boat wobbled and swirled into the river.

“Wheee!” squealed Mungo. He dashed from one side of the boat to the other. He was having so much fun that he didn’t pay attention to where the boat was going.

The river carried Mungo to a far away island. The boat bobbed and bumped onto shore and Mungo stepped into an enchanted forest. Diamond-shaped ornaments, each made of sparkly paper, hung upon the tree branches. Mungo murmured, “How beautiful.” Some of the ornaments twirled like dancing fairies. Others reflected the sun like mirrors.

Further along, Mungo entered a meadow filled with magic flowers. They were made with colored paper, and the petals could close into a box-shape. Delighted, Mungo ran across the field causing a trail of flowers to snap shut behind him.

Next, he found a lake fed by a waterfall. The water fell onto a waterwheel, causing it to spin. Mungo was amazed to find that the waterwheel was made of a waxy, waterproof paper. “Everything on this island is made of paper,” said Mungo. “I’ll call it Paperland.”

Sniffing the air and cocking his ear, Mungo explored the lake. He heard a tinkling noise. He followed the sound until he saw an opening hidden behind the waterfall.

Mungo slipped behind the curtain of water and found a brightly lit cave. It was full of music and… little people. They were all folding paper.

Mungo hesitated - he didn’t know if the people were friendly or not. Before he could hide, one of the workers saw him. Mungo held his breath.

“Do you need help?” asked the little person kindly. “Are you lost?” Mungo was relieved. He told his story starting from the boat ride to the discovery of the hidden cave.

Mungo was bursting with questions too. “Who are you? Where do the lights come from? What are the people doing?”
The little person smiled and said “I’m Ivan; we are Origami Elves.” He pointed to the waterwheel. “The energy from the falling water gives us light and music. Follow me and I’ll show you around.”

As they walked, Ivan explained, “We bring paper to life by folding it into beautiful things.”

Mungo’s eyes grew wide. The workbenches were covered with fancy balls and starburst shapes. Some of the creations were simple and charming while others were complex and more beautiful than anything Mungo had ever seen.

Speechless, Mungo thought about the boat made from newspaper and the waterwheel made of waxy paper. He then thought about the tree ornaments and the magic flowers. Lastly, he remembered the shredded paper that he made at his home. He hung his head in shame.

Seeing Mungo’s unhappiness, Ivan said, “Come. I’ll take you home.” He led Mungo to the far side of the cave where a paper crane waited. Ivan and Mungo mounted the crane. With a flap of its powerful wings, the crane spiraled out of the cave.

Scattered below him, Mungo saw deer, giraffes, and elephants. He wondered if they too were made of paper. “Can I come visit again?” Mungo asked.

“Yes,” said Ivan. “All you have to do is fold a piece of paper into something that flies and imagine it coming alive. Once awakened, it will bring you here.”

When Mungo returned home, Mother Mouse was setting the table. “Did you find something fun to do? Dinner’s almost ready,” she said.

Mungo explained excitedly, “I went to a magical place where they make things out of paper!” As they ate, Mungo described the things he saw in Paperland.

After dinner, Mother Mouse started to clean up. “Wait,” said Mungo. “Can I have that placemat?” He took the placemat and folded it in an up-and-down pattern like an accordion. He pinched one end and made a paper fan.

Mother Mouse nodded in approval. “Now that’s more like it,” she said. Mungo smiled. Making things out of paper gave him a proud and happy feeling that he had not felt before.
Later that evening, Mungo set to work. His next project was to make a paper airplane so that he could visit Paperland again.

A Note from the Author
Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding. In traditional origami, a square piece of paper is folded into a recognizable shape without the use of scissors, glue, tape, or other tools. More information about origami can be obtained from The Origami Resource Center, in libraries, and bookstores.

Models featured in this book: tree ornament (Fluted Diamond by Molly Kahn), magic flower (Magic Rose Cube by Valerie Vann), waterwheel (Mette-Bascetta Ring by Micheal LaFossee), fancy balls and starburt shapes (Kusudama by Tomoko Fuse, Sappho by David Mitchell, Curler Units by Herman Van Goubergen), and other traditional models (paper boat, crane, paper fan, unknown designers).