“I want to go back to the forest of feather trees and shimmer lights,” Maddie said.

“The Cambrian diorama again?” Nic said. “Were were just there.”

“I wanna see the feather trees. I wanna see the shimmer lights. I wanna see the funny bugs.”

Nic looked to Shanika, helplessly.

“Okay, sweetie,” her mother said. “We’ll go to the funny bugs one more time, but then we want to see something else, okay? Like maybe some live animals, or cool skeletons?”

“Feather trees.” Maddie said, grumpily folding her arms. “Funny bugs.”

Her parents obligingly turned the stroller around and wheeled it back into the Cambrian Hall. There, they were surrounded by fiberglass replicas of bizarre, alien life from half a billion years ago, fancifully lit.

“Hello, hello, hello!” Maddie said, waving to the various creatures. “Hello, feather tree. Hello funny bug.”

“What does she see in all this, Nika?” Nic muttered.

“When I was her age, I made my parents take me to the New York Public Libraries rare book room,” Shanika said. “Kids are weird. At least she’ll probably be smart?”

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