"We're going to be late for our honeymoon because Peter Piper wants to swing," Pippi says, swaying in her dress-up bride dress, fidgeting with her veil and tiara. I must say, she does make a lovely Lady Patsy in her getup. "Yeah. I Peter Piter," Tommy says. I stop the swing so that I can adjust the red cowboy boots that slip off of his heels with nearly every backswing. "Where are you going on your honeymoon?" I ask "To buy some food for our babies. Our carriage will take us to the store so I can buy them some artichokes and peanut butter." "So, you and Peter Piper have children already, do you?" "No, they're at the hospital. We'll go there after we get the food." "Come on, Peter. We're late. I hear the babies crying," Pippi yells. Tommy slips down. "I coming," he yells. Then they both run to the awning swing where Pippi is positioning in front, the red Radio Flyer trike, the plastic Dora trike, and the two yellow dump trucks. "These are the horses," she says. "There are ninety-nine horses, and this is our carriage. She helps Tommy onto the swing cushions. "Our carriage is made of the finest china . . . and lace . . . and strings of jewels surround these windows here," she points to the space between the swing frame and the bottom of the awning. "And the cushions are pink silk with the tiniest pearls." Tommy takes off his boots and shakes a cup full of sand onto the cushions. "You are the driver, Mommy, and you have to make the horses go." I take up my reigns (cord used to tie up hay bales) and slap the dump trucks. "Giddyup," I holler. "Now, Peter, we're going to be dreadfully late because you played too long. So while we're driving I want to sit here and read my book. So please be quiet." And she takes up my copy of Heidi and sticks her nose in it. "I see a dragon," Tommy says in a mannerly conversational tone. "Hush now, Peter. I'm trying to read," says Pippi. "There! A dragon!" Tommy's standing on the swing now, pointing to a bird circling above. "That's not a dragon. It's just a bunch of squirrels, Peter," Pippi says, never looking up from her book. "A dragon! I go eat 'em up!" Tommy jumps over the dump trucks, lands tangled up in the Dora trike, picks himself up then grabs his sword (PVC pipe.) "Oh, Peter! I see it! Peter watch out! It's coming after us!" "I get it! I eat it up! I Peter Piter! I eat it up!"
Racketty Packetty House, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I had read through the first few pages on my Kindle, knew Pip would love it, and began with my usual pitch. "Want me to read, while you draw?" I asked. "Sure." She took up a red marker, continued her work. My offer barely made a blip on her radar. An hour and a half later, she was on the floor, beside her dollhouse, acting out the story with her own dolls, prompting me to keep reading anytime I stopped to sip my coffee. She was not the only one a bit miffed when Tommy woke up early. I put aside my Kindle, wondering in what dire conditions I left the poor Castle dolls, languishing with scarlet fever with no one to tend them. For those of you who have not yet been enchanted by this story, I'll give you a brief rundown. Not too much information, mind you. That would ruin the story. Racketty Packetty House, published in 1906, is a story about two doll houses and the dolls who live in them. One house is old and shabby, a relic from the Victorian era, with holes in the carpet, pushed behind a chair and forgotten. The other house, a castle, is inhabited by a noble family of Ladies and Lords. The story is narrated by Queen Crosspatch, who more than once with the aide of the Fairies, saves the dollhouse from being destroyed by a grumpy nurse. The free edition I downloaded to my Kindle is without pictures, so without any visual aids, Pippi and I were free to dress Peter Piper, of the Racketty Packetty house, in the most dilapidated attire, while Lady Patsy, of the Castle set, reposes on her armchair, chin in hand gazing across the nursery floor at the shabby dolls frolicking in their parlor. And although, I know Charlotte Mason recommended choosing books with few pictures so as to free the child's imagination, and Pippi certainly did not seem bothered by the lack of pictures, I would have liked to have caught a glimpse of Queen Crosspatch. And Ridiklis. And Gustibus. And Lady Gwendolen. I would not be surprised if the illustrated thingy edition is found wrapped under the tree on Christmas morning. Oh, and the bit about the dragon? Purely Tommy. No dragons to speak of in the book. Fairies, yes. And nursery magic in good measure. But alas, no dragons. Tommy will oblige Pippi in almost any charade she proposes, even consenting to step into the split-toe boots of "Peter Piter," a character of which he knows nothing, and ride around in a pink cushioned carriage. As long as he gets to fight a dragon and eat 'em up in the end, he's content.