Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a tidy wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
One week it rained for days and days. On Thursday, Benson and his mother went to his friend Mick’s place. Alejandro was there already, and Mick’s little sister Bonnie Lou. Benson and Mick played hide-and-seek with Alejandro, and then they built giant towers with Bonnie Lou’s blocks and knocked them over again.
The mothers complained that they couldn’t hear themselves talking over the noise, so Mick’s mother suggested they go into Mick’s room and read a nice quiet story.
Mick said, “Benson, you should read. Some of the words are too long for me.”
Alejandro said, “I don’t like reading. I like to practise my dance steps.”
Bonnie Lou said, “I can read. I can read ‘a’ and ‘me’ and ‘dog’ and ‘cat’.”
Benson sighed. “I’ll read,” he said. “What books have you got?”
Mick had eight books. Seven of them were picture books about bikes, and the other one was ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears.’
Benson started reading. “’Once upon a time there were three bears who lived in a cottage in the woods.’”
Bonnie Lou said, “What’s a bear?”
Mick said, “It’s big and furry, like a koala. But bigger, much bigger. With teeth and claws.”
“What’s a cottage?” asked Alejandro.
“Just a house,” said Benson.
“Why don’t they say ‘house’, then?” Alejandro said. “’Three koalas lived in a house.’”
Benson said, “Do you want to hear the story? ‘One morning the mother bear made some porridge.’”
“What’s porridge?” asked Bonnie Lou.
“Oats,” said Benson. “My auntie makes it sometimes. She puts sugar and milk on it, and sometimes cream. Maybe some banana, or some coconut.” He stopped to think about porridge with sugar and cream and bananas. He started to feel hungry.
“Go on,” Mick said.
Benson kept reading. “’The porridge was too hot so they went for a walk in the woods’ – that’s the bush. ‘Just then along came a little girl named Goldilocks.’”
“What?” said Bonnie Lou.
“Goldilocks,” said Benson. “She had long, curly golden hair.”
“Ooh,” said Bonnie Lou. She started imagining herself with long, curly, golden hair.
Benson kept reading. “’She went into the cottage and ate some of the porridge.’”
“That’s very rude!” said Mick.
Benson ignored him. The next bit was all about porridge. “’She tried the first bowl of porridge but it was too hot. The second bowl was too cold, but the third bowl was just right, so she ate it all up.’”
“She ate their porridge?” said Mick. “That is extremely rude of her!”
“It’s just a story,” said Benson. “’Then Goldilocks went to sit down. The first chair was too hard, the second chair was too soft, so she sat in the baby bear’s chair but she was too big so it broke to pieces.’”
“She broke the chair?” said Mick. “Did she get in trouble?”
“Did she hurt herself?” asked Bonnie Lou.
Alejandro was bored with porridge and chairs. He got up and started practising his dance steps.
Benson said, “No, she didn’t hurt herself. It’s just a story, remember? ‘Goldilocks went up the stairs to the bedroom.’”
Alejandro started doing his high kicks. Mick tried to sit on him.
Bonnie Lou said, “Did she have her hair in a pony-tail?”
Benson was thinking seriously about lunchtime. He decided to skip to the end. “’The three bears found Goldilocks sleeping in the baby bear’s bed. She woke up and jumped out the window and ran away.’”
Mick started jumping on the bed. Alejandro pushed him off and he fell on top of Benson.
Bonnie Lou said, “Did she die?” and started to cry.
Benson said from underneath Mick, “No, she didn’t die. I told you, she ran away.”
“It’s a stupid story,” said Alejandro. He thought any story without dancing was a stupid story.
Mick thought so too. “If you jumped out of a window, you’d die for sure.”
Bonnie Lou grabbed the book away from Benson and started whacking Mick with it. “She didn’t die, she didn’t die!” she screamed.
Alejandro did a giant leap off the bed and landed on top of Mick on top of Benson. Bonnie Lou hit him too. “It’s not stupid!” she screamed.
The door opened and Mick’s mother looked in. “Time for lunch, everyone!” she said. She took the book away from Bonnie Lou.
Bonnie Lou stopped screaming and hitting. Mick scrambled up. “Can we have porridge for lunch?” he said.
“Porridge?” asked his mother.
“With brown sugar and cream,” said Benson. “Mmm.”