Preface to Chapter 37
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 role models 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 help children today? Can the story help to normalize the experience of living in an unusual time?
As the flood waters in the story begin to recede, we see the pandemic receding in some countries and regions and not in others. The story continues to be a metaphor for the evolution of the pandemic and our experiences during this unusual time. In the story, some characters travel to the foothills, away from the flooding while those in the castle continue to be homebound.
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 usually write a new chapter each Monday and Thursday and post them on Tuesdays and Fridays, but I am taking a holiday from July 3 to July 21.
I hope you and your family 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 Karah Pino who is writing the chapters about Roland, the farmer on the hill, and to Elliot Gardner who who has 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
Secret Prince Story Community on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/640925113394726/
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Roland, sleeping next to Giselle, dreamed that Agnes stood beside him in the barn. “Wake up,” she said. “Wake up.”
Roland awakened and, seeing bright light streaming in the door, realized he had fallen asleep accidentally. “Thanks for waking me, Agnes,” he said. He looked around and and saw that Giselle still slept and that Agnes was not in the barn at all. “That was just the message I needed,” he said, realizing Agnes had sent a message from afar. “Thank, you for waking me, Agnes,” he said again, sending his thought on wings and hoping it would reach is sister in the castle.
Roland watched the sleeping cow. After so many years with so many cows under his care, he could understand much about an animal by looking at it. And, now, the way Giselle did not even twitch when he touched her, told him that she needed much more sleep. Roland took a deep breath and imagined waking the tired cow and leading her to the foothills by rope, having to coax her all the way. He shook his head, knowing that, when she arrived, she would be so exhausted that she might be unable to care for her calf.
It didn’t take long for Roland to know in his heart that Giselle was not ready to make the long trek to the foothills. “You will stay here with your calf, Giselle, Roland whispered. Sir Andrew will send runners and they will tend to you for a few days. As soon as you have caretakers, Galen and I can lead the rest of the cows and the sheep to the foothills. I know you would love the fresh grass in the hills, but, sometimes, we have to stay home when we would wish to make a journey. You may sleep, Giselle, for we will not light a fire today. Then Sir Andrew will know to send help.”
Mirabel watched the sun move higher and higher in the sky, and, as the morning wore on, the gentle breezes blowing through the bell tower grew warmer.
Now she heard the door open far below and then she heard a rumble of footsteps on the wooden steps. Garrick ran all the way up to the the highest level. “Any smoke from the hill?” he asked.
Mirabel took one last look toward barn hill and said, “No fire at all. It looks like Roland needs help.”
Garrick smiled and said, “Then it’s it’s time for me to ring the noon bell.”
“And, it’s time for me to go to the boat,” said Mirabel. “Good bye, Garrick.”
“Safe journey,” said Garrick, stepping toward the bell and taking the rope in both hands. The sound of the bell ringing once filled the tower and echoed until Mirabel reached the ground level.
Here, Mirabel lifted her skirt and hurried through ankle-deep water toward the pier. She did not sink into mud, for the streets in this part of town were paved with cobblestones. Coming around the corner, she saw the wooden dock that was just tall enough to be above the floodwaters. Next to it, the green boat, already loaded with people and all manner of bags and baskets, rocked gently. Rowan and the baker stood on the dock. She saw a tall man step out of the boat. “That must be Lars,” she thought.
Nearing the boat, she saw the passengers: Sir Andrew and her father; Ellyn who usually worked in the castle; and other adults from the town. She recognized all of them: Helena, Peter, and Katrina and her husband, Borin. Ellyn sat in the bow and Rowan and Mirabel took the next seat in place of Lars.
The baker gave them a big push and threw the rope into the boat. Mirabel caught it and rolled it up and tucked it near Ellyn’s feet. Now the boat had two rowers. Katrina and Rowan each had an oar, for they would would need extra power to travel against the current of the river flowing out of the hills.
As they moved through the town, people came to their windows and waved, shouting, “Safe journey!”, “Good Luck in the hills” , “Fare thee well!” All the passengers waved back, except, of course, for the rowers who kept their hands on the oars.
As soon as they left the town they saw smoke behind them, rising into the sky. “Garrick and his father were quick to light the signal fire,” said Ellyn.
Now the Queen and the King know we are on our way to the hills,” said Sir Andrew.
Ronduin heard loud footsteps moving quickly in the hallway. “That sounds like the King,” said Cook Agnes.”
“Perhaps he has seen the signal fire,” said Ronduin.
Ronduin threw open the door to see his father nodding and pointing upward as he approached.
Ronduin was first to reach the top of the stairs and step out onto the roof of the turret. He looked out to the hill and saw Roland stepping out of the door of the barn with two new calves following closely behind him. When the King and Cook Agnes joined Ronduin, they all saw Roland wave his arms in a big wave. They all waved back at him. Cook Agnes said, “he looks well and the new calves look fine. I think he did not light the fire because he needs someone to stay at the barn to care for one of the mother cows.”
“May I light the fire, so Roland knows help is on the way?” asked Ronduin.
“Yes, you may,” said the King. “You are ready to be responsible for lighting it and tending it.
Ronduin started by making a plan. He looked carefully at the piles of wood around the edges of the turret and then he used a stick to locate the glowing hot spots in the embers left from the old fire. Remembering how his father had taught him to build a fire, he started by placing the smallest twigs over the hot embers. Next he piled thin branches, then small logs onto the remains of the old fire. Last he placed a large logs on the heap.
Neither the King nor Agnes stepped forward to assist Ronduin and he realized they trusted him to build the fire with no help. Ronduin found bellows leaning against the turret wall. He opened and closed them forcefully bringing gust of air to the embers. The embers sent up a small flicker that lit the twigs. The twigs burned and lit the thin branches. By the time his mother joined them, the flames had leaped to the logs. The fire roared loudly and smoke rose high into the air.
Ronduin watched the flames and the smoke rising higher and higher. “I think they will see this smoke in the village too,” he said to his mother. “So, they will know that Roland is aware that help is on the way.”
Ronduin and his parents and Cook Agnes looked across the flooded fields to barn hill. Roland still stood at the barn door.
“Look at those poor hungry cows and sheep,” said the Queen.
“The hillside is brown and almost grassless,” said Cook Agnes.”I know Roland must be very concerned about the animals.”
“And yet I’m sure he had a good reason to not start walking to the foothills immediately,” said the King.
Agnes waved at Roland. Roland waved back at his sister. “Now he knows that help is on the way,” said Agnes. She then turned to Ronduin and continued. “So often you have brought messages to Roland for me,” she said. “I always count on you to run there and back very fast. Today, with this fire you have, again, brought a message to my brother, and I thank you. I’m sure it has brought him great peace of mind.”
Here is the portal to Chapter 38 : https://childrengrowing.com/2020/07/21/the-secret-prince-chapter-38-princess-eleanor/
A Message to Readers: If you are reading these chapters as they are being written (This chapter was posted on July 3, 2020.) please know that, due to a short holiday, Chapter 38 will post on July 21.
Please consider helping your child create a project they will send to Ronduin or Mirabel: a drawing, a model, a bean bag, a jump rope or a letter.
You could start your letter something like this:
Like you, the people in my land had to stay home for many weeks. Instead of going to school, I stayed home. I learned about how you cared for chickens, made a jump rope and a beanbag and learned to jump rope and to juggle. I thought I would tell you what I did while I was at home.
Please sign the letter with a pretend name and your real location.
There are many ways to submit your creative projects. You can email letters and images to firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line: Secret Prince or by posting in The Secret Prince Story Community page on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/640925113394726/?epa=SEARCH_BOX
If the letter does not include an image, you can post it in the comments below
In September we will create a post that is a compilation of of letters and images.