Preface to Chapter 39
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 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/
New chapters are also posted on the Growing Children Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/growingchildre/
Many families find that the easiest way to keep up with the story is to sign up as a follower of this blog on WordPress. Blog followers receive an email with the full text of each chapter when it is posted.
Ronduin wandered through the halls of the castle. He did not know where he was going or why he was going there. He never went into his bedchamber when the sun was high in the sky. But, today he found himself there digging to the bottom of a wooden chest. Here he found the worn gray, woolen blanket he had worn when he was the sickly prince.
Now he carried the blanket down the hallway. Again, he didn’t know where he was going or why he was going there. He found himself on the balcony with his chickens. He sat down cross legged and wrapped the blanket around his shoulders. Sunrise flew across the balcony, landed in front of him and stepped into the nest he had made with his legs.
“You can fly,” he said, “and Mirabel is probably running right now. She’s running on dry land through the grass, across the hills to the barn. And I can only sit here and do nothing. I have no place to run. And I’m not a bird, so I can’t fly. I’m not the sickly prince anymore.” Ronduin paused and pulled the gray wool blanket more tightly around his shoulders. “But, since I can’t run, it’s like I’m still the sickly prince.”
Sunrise looked up at Ronduin and cocked her head to the side in a way that looked like she was questioning what he had said.
“You’re right,” said Ronduin. “If I were still sickly, I could not make a fire, or jump a rope or juggle for more than a minute at a time. But I’m just so tired of staying inside. I can’t even go out to the courtyard.”
Now Ronduin tucked Sunrise under his left arm and stood so he could look out over the courtyard. He removed the blanket from his shoulders and tucked it under his right arm.
“Look,” said Ronduin. “The courtyard isn’t dry, but it’s not all wet either. In between the puddles I see dryer spots. Mother tells me it’s much too muddy for walking.”
Sunrise began clucking loudly. She tried to flap her wings. Ronduin placed her on the floor of the balcony.
“You are like me,” he said. “You want to move about.”
Suddenly, Sunrise flew up and landed on the railing. Ronduin heard more fluttering and then Sunset landed next to Sunrise. The two birds looked out at the courtyard and then, at the same time, flew off the the railing toward the center of the great, open space.
Ronduin gasped. In his imagination he flew with the birds, gliding freely. He could almost feel the air beneath his wings.
As Ronduin watched the chickens fly across the courtyard and flutter down to the ground level, he felt joy to see his feathered friends escape from the small balcony. But, when they landed in the branches of a small pear tree, his joy changed to distress.
He called out to them, “Hey, silly birds. You can glide down, but you are chickens, not pigeons. You can’t fly back up. I’ve never see a chicken fly this high. Now you’re stuck down there!”
Dropping the gray blanket, Ronduin burst out of the balcony, moved quickly through the hallway and then headed down the stairs that led to the great dining hall. “I’ll have to catch them and bring them back,” he thought.
Ronduin had not been down these steps to check the water level for many days. Now, as the scaffolding came into view, he was shocked to see that the water was completely gone. In its place was mud. Mud was everywhere. Even the bottom few steps were covered by mud. Ronduin took a slow, careful step onto a muddy step. He held tightly to the railing as he stepped down and instantly slipped, but his tight grip kept him from falling.
Ronduin spied the board that stretched from the stairs to the scaffolding and noticed that it was clean and free of mud. He grabbed this board and pulled. It popped off the scaffolding and fell loudly to the floor, causing splashes of mud to leap to Ronduin’s face and his magical linen shirt. He used the shirt to wipe his face, then he slowly and carefully walked down the muddy steps so he could grab the board.
Now, the slippery mud was helpful. Ronduin was able to move the thick, heavy board by sliding it. He positioned it so it made a dry pathway across the muddy floor to a spot under a nearby window. Ronduin quickly walked the length of the board, pushed open the window and climbed up onto its wide sill. He looked out to see the chickens still perched in the pear tree. Ronduin was standing in the window wondering what to do next when he heard the door open at the top of the stairs.
“I heard a loud noise. Ronduin, is that you down there?” called an echoing voice. “It was his father speaking.
“I’m down here in the window,” said Ronduin. “The chickens flew down to the courtyard. They are in the pear tree.”
“Then we might as well make them a new home down there,” said the King. “I’ll help you bring down their baskets.”
Ronduin walked back over the board and carefully walked up the muddy stairs to meet his father.
“You know,” said Ronduin’s father. “Most of the courtyard is too muddy for walking and will be for some time, but the path up the middle is made of stone. We can use shovels to clear this path, and then we we will be able to walk from one end of the courtyard to the other.
“The pear tree at the far end of the path is near the covered doorway to the old kitchen. That covered doorway is a good spot for the baskets. They will be protected from the rain there. Let’s get to work. We can have the path clear and the baskets set out before supper.
“It’s a long path,” said Ronduin. ” After we clean it, can I use it for running?”
“It will be a perfect place to run,” said Ronduin’s father, smiling warmly at his son.