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! Bulgarian chapters will soon appear on this blog.
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.
Mirabel tugged at the rope. She tugged and tugged until the bucket rose to the top of the well. Then she pulled the bucket toward herself and rested it on the stone wall of the well. She had done this job day after day. Her arms had grown strong from pulling bucket after bucket of water up from deep in the earth.
In the side yard, her father split logs into smaller pieces of fire wood. He had worked at this job day after day because the baker needed wood for the fire to bake bread for the entire village.
Now, as she rested, her father took a moment to stop swinging the axe. He turned and smiled at Mirabel. She waved and smiled back.
Not long ago, her parents had told her to stay away from the open well. Now, as her father went back to swinging the axe, his back was to Mirabel and he did not turn to watch over her. She was old enough to haul up all the water that would be sent to the village, two boat loads every day. And she did not need to be supervised.
Mirabel looked at the long line of jugs she had filled, jugs that would soon be loaded into the green boat. Sir Andrew and the baker’s son, Garrick, would row these jugs of water into the village. They would bring water and they would bring great sacks of bread. The baker had kneaded the dough on their table and baked it over their fire. Mirabel remembered him saying, “I’m still the baker even when my bakery is flooded and I can’t use my big bake oven. People in the village need bread and I am blessed by the hospitality of this family. I am grateful that they give me a place to do my work.”
Adelaide came skipping into the yard. “The baker told me to tell you that the bread is ready.”
“Good,” said Mirabel. “The water jugs are almost ready too.”
“Can I help pour the water? asked Adelaide?”
Mirabel smiled at her little sister. She did not want to tell her that she was too little to pour from the heavy bucket into the narrow mouth of a water jug. But she did want to give her a job. Even the littlest people need to do important work.
“Adelaide, I need you for another job,” she said. “You can watch for the boat. As soon as you see it coming, I’ll start carrying water jugs and you can go tell Rowan to bring out the sack of fresh bread.”
The goats were now back in their pen, for the water had gone down enough to give them a small, dry area.
Adelaide broke off a few budding branches from a bush and climbed to the top of the goat yard fence. The three goats, Daisy, Rose and Bluebell scampered to her and nibbled at the branches.
From her perch atop the fence, Adelaide could see far down the path that had become a river. “I don’t see the boat,” she called out.
Mirabel called back, “Keep watching.” Then she began pouring water from the bucket into a jug. She didn’t have a funnel, so she had to pour very slowly. She didn’t want to spill even drop of the water that she had worked so hard to raise from deep in the earth.
Now, Mirabel lowered the bucket and allowed it to fill with water. She pulled it up and then filled three of the four remaining jugs. Just as she began to fill the last jug, Adelaide called out, “I see it! I see it! The boat is coming!”
“Go tell mother and the baker,” said Mirabel. Adelaide ran to the house and Mirabel carried the water jugs, two at a time, to the fence where she lined them up in a neat row. Rowan arrived with a big sack full of loaves of bread. Mirabel put her nose near the sack and breathed in the smell of fresh bread.
Now the boat pulled up alongside the goat pen. Rowan passed the big sack of loaves to Garrick who carefully placed it in the bow of the boat. Mirabel and Rowan passed jugs of water to Sir Andrew and Garrick passed empty water jugs back to them.
Mirabel noticed it had become quiet. The steady sound of an axe splitting wood had stopped and now father stood beside her.
“Good day, Ricard,” said Sir Andrew to her father.
“And good day to you, Sir Andrew” answered her father.
“I think it’s best if you return to the village with me,” said Sir Andrew. “Garrick will stay here.”
“I can split wood,” said Garrick. “When we are at the bakery in town, I usually do most of the wood splitting for the big oven,” he said.
“Everyone in town is talking about planting,” said Sir Andrew. “We must plant before the water near the castle goes away. As you know, that means using the hill fields that border the mountain kingdom. We need to send a big team to the hills to plow, to plant, and to keep the birds from eating the new sprouts. And we need to move this team before the water is too low to use the boat. I told the villagers we will come to the meeting this afternoon. We will talk about who will go and who will stay.”
“May I come to town with you?” asked Mirabel.
Sir Andrew and her father seemed to share a conversation without words. “Yes, you may come with us,” said Mirabel’s father, smiling.
“You will not add much weight to the boat,” said Sir Andrew. “And, I have a job for you once we reach the village.”
Mirabel had not expected such good luck. She grinned the biggest grin and said, “I will be glad to help.”
The boat slid along the river between the trees. Adelaide sat in the bow next to the big sack of bread. The splishing of the oars and the distant thwacking of the axe made music together. Mirabel remembered running down this path on her way to school and on her way home from school. She remembered feeling hotter and hotter as she ran. Today, lazing in the bow of the boat, looking up at the trees, she felt cooler and cooler.
“The trees are budded,” she thought. “And the buds are swelling and will one day open as leaves. This is always the time of planting.”
Now the boat approached the place near the lake where Mirabel and Ronduin always parted after school. Mirabel watched for this ending of the woods path. But the path did not really end. Instead it opened up to the lake, now an enormous body of water that seemed to go on forever.
The trees that normally lined the lakeshore now stood like sentinels in the water and gave a hint of the old boundary of the lake. Sir Andrew turned the boat to the left and they moved along these trees. They glided over the path where Mirabel had so often run with Ronduin.
“Ricard, when we get to town, I’ll leave you at the home of the tinsmith’s family,” said Sir Andrew. “They have agreed to host the meeting. Mirabel can help pass bread and water to the families whose turn it is today. And we can pick up people and ferry them to the meeting.”
Ricard nodded as Sir Andrew spoke. Mirabel wondered whether her father would join the planting team.
And then the houses of the village came into sight, all surrounded by trees that had become rivers. As they approached, people came to their windows, leaned out and waved. Mirabel waved back.
“Mirabel, it’s Mirabel!”
“I missed you Mirabel.”
“Mirabel, come to my house to play!”
Mirabel’s friends from school rushed to their windows. She knew she could not stop to climb into their second floor windows for an afternoon of play. They had bread and water to deliver and then a meeting to attend.
All she could do was wave and call out greetings to her dear friends. “I miss you too!” she shouted again and again.
Here is the portal to Chapter 27 https://childrengrowing.com/2020/05/28/the-secret-prince-chapter-27-the-view-from-the-hill/