Children are facing a time of increased solitude. I am a retired teacher writing the story The Secret Prince to show a child who faces a similar situation in which he is stuck at home (well, a castle in his case). A flood surrounds the castle and Prince Ronduin cannot go to school in the village and cannot run through the woods. How does he pass his time? Can Ronduin be a role model for children today? Can the story help to normalize the experience of being stuck at home? I’ve been pleased to learn that a growing group of families is reading this to their children as the story grows. Teachers are also using this story with their classes. My goal is to add a chapter each Monday and Thursday. Perhaps you will join us.
If you are new to this story, start here: https://childrengrowing.com/2020/03/15/stories-for-children-in-times-of-trouble-storytelling-help-for-parents-in-the-era-of-covid-19/
You will find a link to the next chapter (as soon as it is available) at the end of each chapter.
Some teachers and parents follow the time-tested approach (used in Waldorf Schools) of telling a story on one day, then asking the child to retell it the next day. The day after that the child engages in an activity related to the story: writing, math, drawing, making or using a jumprope, building a model or making a map for example.
Many thanks to Joel Aragón Colín who is translating the story into Spanish and to Phan Lê Minh who is translating the story into Vietnamese. Also, a volunteer has offered to translate The Secret Prince into Russian!
Please join us for conversations, updates, ideas for follow up activities, new chapters and translations by joining The Secret Prince Story Community on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/640925113394726/
Also, you might want to sign up to receive an email with the full text of each chapter when it is posted on this blog.
Mirabel blinked in the darkness. She felt Adelaide’s arm wrapped around her. She lifted it and gently rolled away from her sleeping sister and crept slowly across the loft to the ladder. “If I can get out the door in the early twilight when I can see well enough to run, but the sun has not yet appeared, I can go around and around the house many times before everyone else wakes up,” thought Mirabel as she moved slowly down the ladder and toward the door.
She carried the wooden bucket out the door, set it down and looked up at the sky. One lone star still peeked at her. Not one ray of sunshine could be seen, but the sky was brighter than the night sky. Mirabel felt a puff of wind against her cheek. Then, far in the distance, she heard the faint sound of a rooster crowing to welcome the day. This was the only sound that ever Mirabel’s house from the neighboring farm.
Mirabel missed walking to this farm each day with a jug of goat’s milk. Often Adelaide had joined her on this little errand to trade goat’s milk for a basket of eggs. Adelaide called it “the chicken farm.” She liked to carry some kitchen scraps to the chickens in the empty egg basket.
Mirabel smiled when she remembered the first time she had allowed Adelaide to carry the full egg basket back through the forest to their home. Adelaide had stopped at each stone and each stick in the path. She would set the basket down, step over the stone and then pick up the basket. This way she could be sure she would not trip and break the eggs. Adelaide and Mirabel had moved along so slowly that their mother had sent their older brother, Rowan, to find them. When Rowan found them, halfway home, he had offered to walk the rest of the way with Adelaide. Mirabel had run home to tell their mother about Adelaide’s especially careful journey with the eggs.
“The last time we had eggs,” thought Mirabel, “was when father brought two perfect eggs from the castle.”
Now, Mirabel ran around the house once, twice, three times. The fourth time, when she ran past the goats atop the wood pile, they leaped down and scampered after her. Near the door, she snatched up the bucket, then carried it, with the goats following, to the back of the house. Here, she gave each goat a turnip from the bucket and led Daisy to the stump. She placed the bucket under her and began to draw forth streams of milk.
Adelaide appeared with the first rays of sunshine. “Can I try to milk Daisy?” she asked. “I think you are as big as I was when I learned to milk,” said Mirabel. Give me your finger and I’ll show you how to squeeze out the milk. Mirabel demonstrated milking on Adelaide’s finger. Then Mirabel stepped aside and spoke to the goat, “Be of good cheer, Daisy. Adelaide will be very careful.”
Mirabel was not surprised that it took Adelaide a very long time to finish milking the goat. She was surprised, however, that Daisy did not seem to mind. The other two goats clambered up and down the wood pile. Daisy did not hop down from the stump. She just stood there calmly looking toward the goat yard.
After helping Adelaide learn the art of milking, Mirabel looked into the goat yard as well. “Look at that, Adelaide,” she said. “The water in the goat yard was a tiny bit past that fence post. Today, it only goes as far as the fence post, so it’s a little lower than is was yesterday. It’s only a tiny bit lower, but the flood has started to go down!”
It was as if Daisy was excited to hear this. For she jumped off the stump and ran to the goat yard fence and looked in as if she were thinking of saying something important about the floodwaters that had taken over her pen.
At that moment, Sir Andrew appeared.
“Good day,” said Mirabel.
“Good day,” said Sir Andrew.
“Look at the goat yard,” said Mirabel. “The water is going down! Yesterday, it was just past that post and today it goes only as far as the post.”
“I might not have noticed that,” said Sir Andrew, “if you had not pointed it out. Of course, we don’t know what will happen next. The water may start to go down a lot every day. Or, the change may be very, very slow. We just don’t know.”
“So, does that mean that it’s possible we could walk to town very soon?”
“Even if the water does go away quickly,” said Sir Andrew, “the flood season will be followed by a long mud season. Agnes, the cook at the castle, is so old that she remembers the last flood. She told me to warn everyone that the mud will be deep and will pull your boots right off your feet. It’s best to stay home in mud season.”
“Once the floodwater goes away, the villagers will be able to walk on the street in the part of town paved with cobblestones. The baker, the shoemaker and the blacksmith are in that part of town and will open their shops. And the town well will be open. But homes elsewhere will have mud paths and most people will be unable to travel for a long time. Even the King and the Queen will be stuck, for the castle will be surrounded by mud.”
Adelaide had waited patiently while Sir Andrew talked about mud. Now she lifted the bucket and asked Mirabel? “May I bring this to mother?”
“Of course you may,” said Mirabel and you can tell mother that you helped to milk Daisy.”
Carrying the bucket, Adelaide moved very slowly across the yard. She stopped and set the bucket down when she came upon a stick. After stepping over the stick, she lifted the bucket over the stick and continued on.
Here is the portal to Chapter 23: ( mis-identified as chapter 22. I don’t seem to be able to edit the link)