The waiting room was warmer than the street. Jemima knew that because when she puffed her breath out she couldn’t see it rising like smoke, as it had done when she was outside. The waiting room was cosy too, with benches, paintings on the walls and plants, making it look a little bit like home. It even had a television on the wall, just like at Jemima’s house. But Jemima’s living room was decorated in shades of brown and beige (her dad’s favourite colours) and the waiting room carpet matched the benches – both were dark turquoise blue with specks of orange and pink.
Dad sat down on the longest bench, as he usually did, and took out his phone, as he usually did. Jemima walked to the corner, as she always did, towards a built-in table where the magazines and toys were kept: all the things a child like Jemima could play with and look at while they waited for the doctor. Today there were two piles of magazines but the pictures on the covers weren’t interesting and Jemima knew they were for the grown-ups.
The box of brightly coloured books was more like it. First, she counted them. It was something she always did, because she was very good at counting. There were twenty six books in total, and Jemima knew from their last visit to the surgery that deciding which one to read was going to be quite a challenge.
Of course, Jemima wasn’t old enough to read the books for herself yet, but she knew you could usually guess what a book was all about just by looking at the front cover. That was why she took each book out in turn and examined the pictures on their fronts very carefully.
That done, she sorted them into piles. First she created a pile of books with animals on the cover, then a pile with people on the cover, and lastly a pile of books without animals or people. Jemima could see that there were more animal books than any other kind. That was good, because Jemima loved animals.
She looked through the books again and sorted them into those that had soft covers and those with hard ones. Most had soft covers, and Jemima preferred them because they were far less heavy.
Jemima’s next task was to sort the books into picture books for younger children like herself, and those books which included a lot of writing and very few pictures. There were more definitely more picture books in the doctor’s surgery and Jemima was glad about that.
Her next sort-out was going to help her decide the book to look at. She selected only animal books with soft covers which were also picture books.
Of the twenty six books, eight of them were in this group.
Jemima carefully placed the remaining books, all eight of them, on the bench next to her.
Which should she choose?
That was a big question: a really big question. And Jemima wasn’t sure how to make the decision. She wasn’t even sure what she was in the mood for.
Until, out of the corner of her eye, Jemima saw the edge of the book she wanted. Peeping out, she saw a picture of a badger. Badgers, that was it! She pulled the book from the pile and scrutinised it. Yes! The book had it all – badgers, rabbits, toy trains and feathery plants.
So, Jemima carefully put the other eight books away, obviously ensuring that she stacked them in size order.
With the ‘Badger Wood in Trouble’ book in her hand, Jemima moved to sit next to her dad, and settled herself with the book on her knee. But at that very moment, from the intercom came the doctor’s voice saying ‘Jemima Smith into the consulting room please’.
She had to go and see the doctor before she’d read even a single word. But it didn’t matter – she’d had fun in the waiting room, and she knew that dad always let her take the book with her when she went into the consulting room. She held the badger book in her right hand and stuck her left hand out for dad to hold.
‘Let’s go, ‘Mima,’ dad said.
‘Let’s go, dad,’ Jemima said.