This evening, while I was hanging out reading books with Penn (and mere hours after I'd read Lis's hilarious story about the evil, scary monkeys), Penn looked at me with an earnest, worried expression on his face.
"Do you have any stories about nice monkeys?" he asked.
"Hmm..." I said, "I don't know. Let's look."
The best I could come up with was a book about Curious George going to the hospital. Now, I'm not an enormous fan of Curious George or the weird Man with the Yellow Hat, but it has to be said that George is a nice enough little monkey. So we read the book, which was all about George's ill-advised eating of a puzzle piece, necessitating surgery and a hospital stay. It's a gentle little story about children in the hospital, and it's populated with lovely warm nurses and doctors, and plenty of other children to hang with. Plus bowls of ice-cream to eat.
At one point, Penn and I realized that while two or three of the children in one of the illustrations were given actual character names, five others were not. I asked Penn what he thought the unnamed children should be called. He was a little quiet and noncommittal at first, but he rose to the occasion and pointed at the first little girl.
"That's P.S." he announced.
"Okay," I responded, just kind of rolling with it. "What do you think this other little girl's name is? You know, she has red hair--who do you know who has red hair?" And he named one of his (several!) little red-haired friends, whom I shall here refer to as...oh, Talya. (Why not?) We agreed that the little girl in the picture could be called Talya.
"Okay, so that's P.S., and that's Talya, and who's this boy?"
"Koo." said Penn.
"Okay, and how about this boy?"
"Um, okay, so we have: P.S., Talya, Koo, and Talya-Boy? Hey, what about this other boy over here on the bed?"