Preface to Chapter 33
Children have endured a time of increased solitude. They have had their daily lives changed and still face an uncertain time as the world moves through the end of the pandemic and back to health.
I am a retired teacher developing the story The Secret Prince to show children who face a situation in which their world has changed dramatically. A flood surrounds the Medieval castle and the village. Prince Ronduin cannot go to school in the village and cannot run through the woods. How does he pass his time? Mirabel, who lives near the village is stuck in a small house with eleven other people. Can Ronduin and Mirabel be role models 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. I’ve included math topics relevant to children in the early grades. The story can also be used by teachers presenting the Medieval period. Historical events are not included, however, I am attempting to show how people lived in this time period.
I write a new chapter each Monday and Thursday and post them on the day they are written or on the following days, Tuesdays and Fridays.
I hope 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 children 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. Some creative parents are adding to the story by telling about a person who lives in the village. One parent had the idea to add to the story by having Ronduin’s mother tell him stories.
Many thanks to the collaborators who are translating this story: Joel Aragón Colín who is translating the story into Spanish, to Phan Lê Minh who is translating the story into Vietnamese and Tanya Kirilova Kothari who is translating The Secret Prince into Bulgarian! I am also grateful to Karah Pino who will continue as the author of Roland’s story and to Elliot Gardner who who as joined the team as my editorial assistant.
Also in the works is The Secret Prince readaloud onvideo by a talented speaker!
Please join us for conversations, updates, ideas for follow up activities, new chapters and translations by joining
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Cook Agnes joined Ronduin and his parents on the turret with a view to barn hill. The fire was so hot that they all stood as far from it as they could.
“Roland has gone back into the barn,” said Ronduin to Cook Agnes. “Maybe he plans to light his fire, but it looks like he’s not going to light it right away.”
“Sir Andrew told me that they would wait a full day to light the second fire as they leave town for the foothills,” said Ronduin’s father. As you know, they can see a signal fire from the barn hill, but the pine forest prevents Roland from seeing any signal fires lit in the forest or the town.”
“Why wouldn’t Roland leave now with all the animals, since he knows that they will be in the foothills soon?” asked Ronduin.
“It could be that he is tending a sick animal,” said Cook Agnes.
“Or that a cow is in labor, getting ready to give birth,” said Ronduin’s mother.
“Or that he, himself has a problem that would keep him from traveling. I know he sometimes has pain in his back, ” said Ronduin’s father.
“I know my brother well,” said Cook Agnes. “He loves his animals and he will be eager to get them to the new spring grass in the hills.”
“Ronduin, it looks like we won’t see a second fire from Sir Andrew until tomorrow. Perhaps you should stay in this turret and watch to see if Roland lights a signal fire. We would like to know if he is about to leave with the animals. Meanwhile, I’ll go to the sitting room to keep an eye toward the town. We don’t expect a signal until tomorrow, but I will watch just in case.”
“I will watch with you,” said the King.
“And I will bring meals to all of you,” said Cook Agnes.
The King and Cook Agnes left first and the Queen stayed behind to talk with Ronduin.
“You should go inside on the top floor the turret to watch. Between the hot fire and the hot sun, you will be uncomfortable here.”
Ronduin nodded and followed his mother down the stairs to the area near the window where he had practiced juggling.
“Too bad I don’t have any silk pieces to juggle with while I wait,” said Ronduin.
The Queen reached into her pocket and pulled out a red square of silk and a blue square of silk.
“I think you are ready to try juggling with two squares now,” she said, smiling.
Ronduin’s mother took a moment to show Ronduin how to juggle with two pieces of silk, then she left him to practice.
Mirabel and Rowan sat in the bow of the green boat as it travelled down the forrest path that led to the lake.
“When I went to the village last time, I saw only trees poking out of the water. Now there are bushes. And look, there’s a big rock,” said Mirabel.
As she said this they felt a big bump as the boat hit the forest floor. They were stuck for a moment, but then the baker took an oar out of its oarlock and handed it to Sir Andrew who used it to push the boat forward by poking it through the water and into the mud. Then the baker went back to rowing. This happened three times before the lake came into view.
“We will come to a big bump at the edge of the lake,” said Mirabel who remembered standing near at that spot many times as she said good-bye to Ronduin and turned to run down the path toward home.
“If we get stuck, you and I can step out for a moment to make the boat lighter,” said Rowan.
“Good idea,” said Mirabel as they reached the bank of the lake and found the boat could not pass.
The two children hopped out, stepped into the lake and pulled hard on the boat while Sir Andrew and the baker used both oars to push. The twins began to cry and it was as if their sound loosened the boat for, just at the moment of their loudest wail, the boat was freed and slipped into the lake.
Mirabel and Rowan pointed the boat toward town and climbed back in. As soon as the craft began gliding over the lake, the twins stopped fussing and, as their mother sang a gentle lullaby, they fell asleep.
Mirabel found the sound of the oars splashing in and out of the water, the warmth of sun on her face and the gentle rocking motion of the boat to be soothing. She lay back against the bow and watched clouds moving slowly across the sky.
During this quiet time, she began to think about the next day. She imagined seeing smoke from barn hill and knowing that this meant that Roland did not need her help. Instead, she would help at the bakery.
Then she imagined coming to the end of the morning with no sign of smoke. If they saw no smoke, she and Rowan would travel up the river to the foothills. Then they would run, run fast with a view out over the valley to the barn hill and the castle, run along the high path toward the hill and then up the hill to the barn. Here they would learn why Roland had not yet brought the animals to new grass.
Mirabel closed her eyes and when she opened them after a short sleep, she saw that they had entered the river. She sat up and yawned, noticing the stone walls that lined the river bank. Turning, she saw they had almost reached the the town with its tall buildings standing tightly together.