Tuesday, September 27, 2011


My father used to read to me before I went to sleep. One night he decided I was ready to progress beyond The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar and The Many Mice of Mr Brice. I was ready for the world of chapters.

I felt ready: I was four-and-a-half, and I was very big.

Dad took a chapter book from the shelf and showed me the cover. I could see straight away that the book was much longer than my previous favourite book.

This will take ages, I thought, I might get to stay awake until morning!

A cousin had told me that if you stayed up long enough, night would turn into morning. I was sceptical but keen to try it.

Dad lay down on the bed beside me. He turned back the colourful book-cover. He turned three of four pages and began to talk. I say talk because I couldn’t believe that anyone, not even my father - who was pretty amazing -, could interpret the jumble of symbols I was looking at.

Once there were four children whose names were-

“What are those,” I interrupted pointing at the closely packed words.

“Those are the words that make up this story, Matthew,” Dad answered.

“What does that one say?” I asked in a disbelieving tone.

Peter,” Dad replied.

“What about that one?”

London,” Dad answered.

“What about –“

Dad cut me short.

“How about we just read the story?”

I agreed.

Dad read on. This was a story about a magical world, and while some of the words were a bit big for me, I could feel that world weaving its magic web around me. I was entranced.

Dad read for about ten minutes. Then he started to get tired. He started to yawn and read at the same time; I didn’t like it when he did that. Then he said: “Well, time for sleep. Goodnight.”

“Wait!” I demanded. “Is that the end? Did you read that word?” I pointed at a word.

“We’ve finished the chapter,” Dad answered. “I’ll read you some more tomorrow night.”

I protested. I complained. This just wasn’t fair. There was more story but I had to wait a whole day to hear it? Did Dad know how long a day was?

This was unprecedented!

“Go to sleep now, Matthew,” Dad demanded.

“I hate chapter books,” I informed him.

“No more tomorrow night then?” Dad asked.

I didn’t think that question warranted an answer.

I’m sure I saw Dad grinning to himself as he turned off the bedroom light. He had me hooked and he knew it.

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