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 many families are 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, sewing a bean bag, 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, volunteers have offered to translate The Secret Prince into Russian and Bulgarian!
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/
You might want to sign up to receive an email with the full text of each chapter when it is posted on this blog.
A Note About Chapter 25:
Children love hearing stories from their parents’ childhoods. In this chapter, the Queen tells Ronduin about learning a skill as a child. Do you have a story you might tell your child about how you learned a skill?
Ronduin’s mother stopped throwing the three objects. She caught each one and put them in her apron pocket. Then she turned around. At first she didn’t see Ronduin standing in the doorway. She smiled to herself, the type of sly smile that goes with an exciting secret that has been successfully hidden.
This smile told Ronduin that he might be ruining a surprise. So, he decided to creep away without being seen. He took a slow, gentle step. It was a quiet step, as quiet as possible when walking on the stone floor of a castle. He kept his eye on his mother as he moved in slow motion. She did not appear to hear this first step. His second step took him almost out of her sight. Just as he thought he could get away without being seen, the Queen looked up and spotted his foot just before it moved out of sight.
“Ronduin, is that you?” she called out.
For a second, he considered running away. “That’s a silly idea,” he thought. She’s a fast runner and she would chase me.” Ronduin returned to the doorway and said, “Yes, it’s me, mother.”
“So, you saw me juggling?” she asked.
“Yes, I saw you doing some sort of magic, throwing and catching three things without dropping them. That’s called juggling?”
His mother nodded and said, “Yes, it’s called juggling. Come in quickly and close the door.” She walked over to the window and Ronduin followed her.
“When I was a girl,” she said, “I learned juggling from my Uncle Cedric. He was a minstrel who would travel from town to town during the warm months. He traveled with a group of entertainers. They performed at castles, at fairs, and in town squares. He stayed with us every winter.’
“Uncle Cedric would arrive before the first snowfall in a colorful cart full of minstrels. His friends would stay with us for a fortnight and they would perform all their acts for us. It was the happiest of times. We danced and we laughed every afternoon and every evening until it was very late. My favorite part was the puppet shows. The puppets came out first while we little children were still quite awake. I laughed and laughed. When I was little I would usually fall asleep during the last performance, usually a long, boring ballad. Uncle Cedric would carry me, sound asleep, to the room I shared with my older sister and, in the morning, I would wake up with a puppet sharing my bed.’
“When the rest of the minstrels left in the cart, I always ran to the end of our road to wave at them. I begged them to return the following year. But I was not too sad when they left, for Uncle Cedric and his great trunk full of costumes and props remained.’
“How I loved that trunk. My uncle let me wear all of the costumes and play with the juggling balls and puppets. When I was very little I would pretend to juggle and the juggling balls always ended up on the floor, but I didn’t care. I would just pick them up and start all over. Then, as I got older, Uncle Cedric started offering suggestions and one winter, when I was about as tall as you are, I realized I had somehow learned to juggle. It had happened so slowly that I didn’t notice. My father told me that something like this had happened to him when he traveled to another country and one day discovered he had learned their language. A knowledge or a skill can sneak up on you!’
“Once the snow came, we were stuck inside for long stretches of time. The wind would howl outside. And, the snow grew deeper and deeper and this made it hard to travel. It was a lot like our life now, only it was winter.’
“When we weren’t juggling, Uncle Cedric would tell me and my sister about each place he had performed during the warm months. He told me about the people he met and the roads he traveled. I liked to hear about the spring fair here in this kingdom that we called The Lowland Kingdom. I always wished I could go to it and now I am pleased that my child can go there every spring.”
“Will we have a spring fair this year?” asked Ronduin. “Will the flood be gone in time?”
“Your father and I have discussed that,” said the Queen. “We decided we will have a Spring Fair even if it is no longer spring when the water is gone and the mud is gone too. It will be the fair we have each year, but it may happen in summer. When this flood time has ended, our joy will overflow and we will dance and be merry. We will have the most wonderful fair in the history of this Lowland Kingdom.”
Ronduin remembered running to the fair from school and running around and around the great field. He sighed. How he longed to run and run and run.
“In fact, I’ve been thinking about the fair,” said the Queen. I have the idea that I could perform a juggling act there, just like Uncle Cedric did long ago.”
“Was your uncle a sorcerer?” asked Ronduin. “Isn’t juggling a kind of magic? No ordinary human could do that if they did not know magic.”
Ronduin’s mother grinned and shook her head. “Well, I learned to juggle, and I am not a magician. And, my Uncle Cedric was a common man, not a sorcerer. Not only is it possible for common folks to learn juggling, but I know that a young prince like you could learn this skill. In fact, it was your skill with your throwing sack that reminded me of the lessons I learned from Uncle Cedric during the long winter months. If you are interested, I can teach you what my Uncle Cedric taught me.”
“You think I could really learn to juggle?” asked Ronduin.
“I’m sure of it,” said the Queen. “And I’m hoping we can keep our juggling a secret from your father and Cook Agnes. I think they would enjoy a surprise performance. I’ve been practicing secretly.”
“I saw you practicing seven times,” said Ronduin. “You were always in the distance, and I thought I was seeing birds flying.”
“I guess I didn’t keep my secret that well,” said the Queen, laughing. “We will have to figure out how to keep our juggling practice a secret.”
Here is the portal to Chapter 26: https://childrengrowing.com/2020/05/26/the-secret-prince-chapter-26-i-miss-you-too/