If you were here, little stars-in-my-sky, I’d read to you tonight, Maddy’s special storybook, Madeline. We would snuggle together, and I’d begin:
In an old house in Paris
that was covered with vines
lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.
“I wouldn’t do straight lines,” Max would say. “I’m a Wild Thing. I make a rumpus, all over North America!”
“We’ll make a rumpus later, I promise. Now let me read for your sister.” Max growls and giggles, and I go on:
In two straight lines they broke their bread
And brushed their teeth
And went to bed.
“Rumpus!” Max growls. “I’ll eat you up!”
“If you want cookies with your rumpus, Max, you’ll have to wait your turn,” I say, with a tickle.
They smiled at the good
and frowned at the bad
and sometimes they were very sad.
They left the house
at half past nine
in two straight lines
in rain or shine –
the smallest one was Madeline.
“That’s my name!” says Maddy, as though the story were new all over again. “Madeline’s brave, like me.”
She was not afraid of mice –
she loved winter, snow and ice,
to the tiger in the zoo
Madeline just said, “Pooh-pooh,”
and nobody knew so well
how to frighten Miss Clavel.
“Was she afraid of monsters?” Maddy asks. No, we tell her, and she liked to tickle Wild Things. And just to show how it’s done, we pooh-pooh Max and tickle him until he forgets all about his wild rumpus.
In the middle of the night
Miss Clavel turned on her light
and said, “Something is not right!”
Little Madeline sat in bed,
cried and cried; her eyes were red.
“I would give her a hug,” Maddy says. “And so would Max,” she adds firmly, giving him a little push. Then she pulls Sabrina into a big soft hug to show us.
Sitting close together, we read how Madeline got sick and had her appendix out, and all the little girls were sad. Max says he wants to drive the car with the red light, and he’d go very fast so Madeline could get well faster. And so he could make a rumpus. He counts the little girls when they go to visit Madeline in their two straight lines, to make sure there are only eleven. But his favorite part is Madeline’s scar.
“Can I have a scar?” he asks, showing us his scarless tummy. Probably someday, I tell him, but it hurts to get a scar. “I’m brave,” he says stoutly. I know, sweetheart, but let’s wait on the scar. It’s much more fun to have a rumpus.
And so we do. With cookies.