Here they are, organized; in the reading room, which they call their room and then place beanies and other things of value on the shelf over the bed for in the morning.
The bed belongs to one of the aunts. You can get under there when you’re called in a tone that suggests trouble.
There’s a sensible plastic sheet on the bed in case of accidents.
The third grandson is in the bed of another aunt. He’s asleep already; he did not last to the end of the Hairy Maclary omnibus.
But in this room, where the four year old seniors sleep, the evening was lashed with argument. In Handa’s Surprise, the ostrich took the orange.
‘No, she didn’t.’
‘No, it was a avadcardo.’ The winner of this discussion stretched avadcardo to its final length. It worked. When you are four, words that turn into food in your mouth outrank the need to continue talking.
In King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, (the old paper pages worn away to silk), the King said, ‘trout, trout, trout.’
‘He didn’t pull the plug.’
‘Yes, she did.’ There was silence. They both wanted this bath that held battle ships, fishing rods, and party food with purple fizzing in gold goblets and sheeps made of cake, and iced swans with lollies in their eyes.
They read There’s a Sea in my Bedroom.
‘He got scared of the sea in his ears.’ Noah read. Max listened and argued. But they like things about being scared. They looked approvingly at the boy being scared. They looked at the sea that came into his bedroom (out of a conch shell).
‘There’s a conch shell at kindy. Beryl said the sea’s in it.’
‘Is there any sea in it?’
‘Yes. Beryl said.’
In The Tiger Who Came to Tea, the discussion became fierce.
It’s not coffee.’
Ok, it’s curry.’
‘It’s not curry. It’s carfeey.
It’s not carfeey.’
There was silence; they stared at the illustrations.
‘She can’t have a bath because the lion ate all her bath water.
‘It’s a tiger.’
‘So they go out to the café for tea.’
‘It’s the pub. It’s a pub. It’s my pub.’
‘So they go out to the pub for tea. I want to go there.’
‘Nanny, can you read to us?’
So I stop eavesdropping and go in to read. But first there is a song they want to sing about a fish. It lasts for fifteen minutes. Then we can read. Because I have told them that anything less than one hundred books before sleep is unacceptable.