Royal Dad(7)

By: Leanne Banks

 “And you’re definitely from the palace?” Francois frowned. “Yes, but—”

 “And you want Max to get the best possible education, don’t you?”

 Appearing trapped, Francois narrowed his eyes at her in silence. After a long moment he sighed. “Very well, Mademoiselle Gillian.”

 Maggie glanced at Max, who was staring at her, wide-eyed. “Change your clothes, Prince Max. Time’s a’wasting.”

 As soon as the boy left the room, Francois turned to her. “In the future, it would be best to notify me in advance.”

 “Fair,” she said with a nod. “I’ll need someone on standby every day for the next two weeks.”

 “But, mademoiselle—”

 “Hey, you said you wanted notice.”

 Francois gazed at her with an expression of disbelief and disapproval. “But shouldn’t you be teaching Prince Maximillian in the classroom?”

 “Later.” She glanced at Francois’s formal dress. “You think you might need to change clothes, too?”

 Francois sniffed. “Absolutely not.”

 “Suit yourself.”

 A few minutes later Maggie and Max led the way to the pond with Francois unhappily bringing up the rear. “We’re going to be looking for tadpoles and frogs,” she told Max as they neared the water.

 They scoured the area, discussing the various plants and fish they found. When Maggie spotted some tadpoles, she and Max shucked their shoes and waded into the pond to catch them with the bucket.

 Francois warned her to remain near the edge.

 “They’re little, but fast swimmers,” Max said, staring into the bucket.

 “So they won’t get gobbled up by the fish,” she said with a smile. “We really need our frog now.”

 She and Max searched he gave a cry of delight. “I found one!”

 “Good job,” she said, winding around a cluster of trees. Maggie noticed he didn’t pick it up, so she took the frog in her hands and sat down and motioned for Max to join her.

 “Okay, what do you notice about this guy compared to the tadpoles?” she asked.

 “He’s green and he jumps instead of swims, and he’s a lot bigger.”

 The frog wriggled in her hands and made a croaking sound.

 Max laughed. “And he’s noisier.”

 “Yes, he is,” she said. “Can you make the same sound he does?”

 Max was silent for a long moment, then said, “Ribbit, ribbit.”

 Maggie smiled. “Sounds close to me. The word frog starts with f. What does that first sound feel like in your mouth?”

 Max made the phonetic sound and gave a blank look.

 “Make it again and think about how your teeth and tongue feel.” She made the sound with him.

 “I feel my teeth on my lips,” he said and wrinkled his brow. “And I feel air.”

 “Excellent. We call that a lip cooler. That’s what f feels like. Frog starts with f and the second letter is r.

 What does r feel like?”

 Max made the sound. “Buzzy. A car engine in my mouth.”

 “Very good,” she said, delighted and held up the mirror. “Where is your tongue?”

 Max made the r sound and looked in the mirror. “It’s hard to see, but the back of it goes up.”

 “That’s right, and that is why we call an r a back lifter. What about the oh sound? How does it feel?” she asked.

 He made an oh. “Open.”

 “Yes, and finally g,” she said. “Where do you feel your tongue?”

 “It’s touching the roof of my mouth.”

 “Great,” she said. “We call that a tongue scraper. Make that sound one more time, and put your hand

 on your vocal chords like this,” she said, lifting her hand to her own throat.

 Max followed her instructions.

 “Now just for grins, make a k sound, but keep your hand on your vocal chords. And then make the g sound again.”

 He smiled. “When I make the g sound I feel it in my throat.”

 “Very good, now would you like to hold our new friend?”

 Max’s eyes widened, then he glanced at her cautiously. She saw more than a hint of interest on his face.

 “Yes,” he said, and gingerly extended his hands.

 Maggie continued the combination science/phonics lesson until a downpour of rain drenched them.

 Tossing the tadpoles into the pond, she grabbed Max’s hand and they ran back to the palace with Francois.

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