Issue Number 1
But first, a word just for the adults…
A MESSAGE FROM the TALE TELLER Hello there, adults. I think it might be fair to warn you that Mockingbird Tell-Tale Letters are uncensored stories for kids, and so… you might not like them. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you won’t, because everyone who’s anyone knows that the one thing that adults don’t know how to do is relax, have fun, and not be so serious all the time, and not think about things like the light bill, and if they’re getting enough Vitamin D, and what’s the best fabric softener, and if the car needs an oil change. Blah, blah, blah, adult, adult, adult…. Mockingbird Tell-Tales live in a world where there are no such things. I think (and I’m still talking to the adults) it’s fair to warn you that in these stories you need to expect the unimaginable, and you have to promise not to say things like, “But a pot can’t talk!” Because let’s be honest, are you absolutely sure that a pot can’t talk? Have you ever snuck up on one mid-sentence? I have. Okay, I haven’t, but I know stories about people (and monkeys) that have. So there you go. Things happen in these stories. My advice is: just go with it. Oh, I almost forgot (again, still talking to the adults) – these are stories. Repeat after me: These are stories. They’re not lessons. This isn’t school. So try not to muck it up with weird little “teachable” moments. Try not to suck the fun out of it. These are stories, not recipes or DIY how-tos. Don’t make a craft out of them. Just read them. Read the stories. Try to enjoy them. Try to relax—we all know you’re no good at that. But you can at least try. And one more thing (still talking to you adults <sigh>) when you read these stories, could you put some sizzle on them? This isn’t the New York Times or The Paris Review. This is Mockingbird Tell Tale Letters. These are supposed to fun! These aren’t blah blah blah politics blah blah blah op-ed blah blah blah book review. I mean, no disrespect. All those things have their place, but not here and not at this time. Well, there is a little something for you at the end of the story: questions. We know how
much adults love asking kids questions. But not until you read the story and put some sizzle on it. If it’s a story about a monkey having a hootenanny, well then by all means, spark up your inner hootenanny! Just remember you used to know how to be a kid. In fact, I bet you were really good at being a kid. I bet you were an expert kid! Go back to then and begin to read the story with some SPARK! SIZZLE! ZING! Sincerely, Respectfully, Cordially, and with Warm Wishes, Appreciation and Best Regards, The Tale Teller PS – a note for kiddos who don’t know what a hootenanny is. First of all, you haven’t lived until you’ve had a good and proper hootenanny. But a hootenanny is a spontaneous happening: paaaaarrrrrtttttyyyy!!!!!!! Like a throw-down disco jam while wearing your jammies. Have you ever jumped up and down on the bed or a trampoline or the sofa? Remember how fun it was? You laughed so hard jumping you could barely breathe! That’s a hootenanny! It’s an instant party that you can have anywhere with anyone without invitations or party favors. All you need to have a hootenanny is a bucket of fun!
*Telltale Letters *
WISDOM EDITION Table of Contents Story: HOW WISDOM CAME INTO the WORLD Page 5
BEYOND the STORY Page 9
Beginners: PRE Kâ€“KINDERGARTEN Page 10
Thinkers: ELEMENTARY Page 11
Dreamers: MIDDLE & HIGH SCHOOL Page 12
How WISDOM CAME INTO the WORLD have a tale to tell as a story as it was told to me. Now kinders of my kin, I do not really mean—I really do not mean that all I am going to say is true. I also really do not mean that all I am going to say is false. All that I mean and all that I’m going to say, let it be a story. Let it be a true lie with wings. Let it begin here between you and me: In a land of light and shadows, there lived a king as big as the sky, and so the people called him Sky King. Like the sky, Sky King’s massive palace was so tall, so tall, so Tall, that all of the Rulers of Creation had to climb vines, hand over hand, claw over claw, fin over fin, ray over ray, beam over beam, and even wing over wing, to lift-pull themselves up above the clouds and the trees to see the Sky King sitting on his throne made of ribbons of gold, amber and sapphire, as brilliant as the sky. This is the way that all the other rulers of all the nations of all of creation came to find him one day. On an extraordinary day which is a day that is ordinary with something a little more, all the Rulers of Creation came in need of Great Wisdom. They wanted to heal all heartaches and headaches all around. Always and already they had killed with words, opinions and grasps. Always and already they had imagined schemes, poisons and weapons. Always and already they had dreamt-up blasts, sirens, and havocs. Always and already they had tasted confusion, terror, and chaos—and they had found that it was bitter, jagged and barbed. And so, hand over hand, claw over claw, fin over fin, ray over ray, beam over beam, and even wing over wing, they came to see the Sky King. The first to speak was the Mother of All Children, now listen and hear
what she said: “Oh, Great and Wondrous Sky King. You can make such wonders that the world has never seen. Give to me a wonder to save my children from the Burning Fires of Want, Hate, and Anger. Their fires are burning all the children. Crisp! Crackle! Soot! Soot! Crisp! Crackle! Soot! Soot! Crisp! Crackle! Soot! Soot! Oh, Great and Wondrous Sky King! Make me a wonder of wonders to put out all the flames.” And she removed her crown of milk and spoons, and knelt with her head to the sky floor before him. The next to speak was the Padre of Land & Beasts, now listen and hear what he said: “Oh, Most Powerful Eminence and Almighty Sky King! You can bend wind and light, rock and steel. Forge me a tool to save the land from the beasts and the beasts from the land. Their striving is strangling the living from life. Croak! Gag! Struggle! Struggle! Croak! Gag! Struggle! Struggle! Croak! Gag! Struggle! Struggle! Oh, Most Powerful Eminence and Almighty Sky King! Forge me a tool to fix them from striving.” And he removed his crown of fur and thistle, and bowed with his head to the sky floor before him. The next-to-the-next to speak was the Empress of the Seven Seas of the Ocean, now listen and hear what she said: “Oh, Excellent Majesty and Wise Sky King! You can conjure me the most inspiring and wise ideas. Contrive me an idea to save the seven seas of the ocean from drowning in greed, swallowing all the shores and the land that doesn’t belong to them. Gulp! Glub! Sinking! Sinking! Gulp! Glub! Sinking! Sinking! Gulp! Glub! Sinking! Sinking! Oh, Excellent Majesty and Wise Sky King! Conjure me an idea to satisfy their hungers.” And she removed her crown of driftwood and coral, and bent with her head to the sky floor before him. The next-to-the-next and next to speak was the Minister of Morning, Noon and Night, now listen and hear what they said: “Oh, Most Tranquil, Peaceful and Noble Sky King! You can quiet and still rushing winds. The morning stretches into the night and the night seeps into the noonday without any rest. Clickety! Clank! Toil! Toil! Clickety! Clank! Toil! Toil! Clickety! Clank! Toil! Toil! Oh, Most Tranquil, Peaceful and Noble Sky King! Lend me a whisper to quiet and still the morning from rushing into noonday, the noonday rushing into night. Lend me a whisper to give them a calm place to rest.” And they removed their crown of dew and clouds, and stooped with their head to the sky floor before him. The last-to-the-next and next-to-the-last to speak was the Serene, Celestial Highness of the Land of Nod, now listen and hear what she said: “Oh Most Luminous and Radiant Sky King! You can light the darkest paths at the darkest hour. Can you reflect some of your brightness on the haunted shadows that encroach the hearts of timid creatures in the middle of the night? Shudder! Shriek! Shriek! Shudder! Shriek! Shriek! Shudder! Shriek! Shriek! The stars flinch in terror and sister moon wanes, hiding herself beyond the furthest clouds. Oh, Most Luminous and Radiant Sky King! Cast your reflection and its brightness will disperse the shad-
ows.” And she removed her crown of stars and fireflies, and curtsied with her head to the sky floor before him. The very last to speak was the Imperial Majesty of All Winged Creatures That Take Flight, now listen and hear what he said: “Oh Highest and Most Supreme Sky King! You sit on the highest peak and furthest horizon—higher than wings can fly—beyond all heights and dimensions. The skies are teeming with every natural flying creature and every handmade flying creature, so now the skies are overrun with traffic. Could you push the boundary of the sky higher so that the firedrakes and robins, owls and pegasi, bats and gargoyles may have room to fly freely? Swoosh! Dive! Crash! Crash! Swoosh! Dive! Crash! Crash! Oh Highest and Most Supreme Sky King! Could you grant us more air from above so that we can fly more freely?” And he removed his crown of dragon scales and raven feathers and genuflected with his head to the sky floor before him. So there in a land of light and shadows, the Rulers of Creation who’d climbed vines, hand over hand, claw over claw, fin over fin, ray over ray, beam over beam, and even wing over wing, to lift-pull themselves up above the clouds and the trees to see the Sky King, perched on his throne made of ribbons of gold, amber and sapphire as brilliant as the sky, pleaded their desire to heal all heartaches and headaches all around. But the Sky King listened without listening and sent all the rulers of the nations of all of creation away without granting not even a single one of their wishes. What the Mother of All Children, the Padre of Land and Beasts, the Empress of the Seven Seas of the Ocean, the Minister of Morning, Noon and Night, the Serene, Celestial Highness of the Land of Nod, and the Imperial Majesty of All Winged Creatures That Take Flight didn’t know was that always and already the Sky King had decided to move his kingdom even higher, far and away, farthest and beyond even the very sky. For he was a selfish king who had gathered all the wisdom in the world for himself. He’d built his massive palace that was so tall, so tall, so Tall to keep all the children of the earth who were both young and old—and all the beasts of the land who were both big and small—and the shores of the seven seas of the ocean who were both wide and deep—and every morning, noon and night that were both warm and cool—and all the creatures of the middle of the night who were both fierce and shy—and all the natural and handmade flying creatures who were both feathered and scaled from having access to any of the wisdom of the world. For he cared nothing about the burning children, striving and strangling beasts, drowning shores, rushing mornings seeping into nights, encroaching shadows, or crashing winged creatures of flight. He didn’t care at all. And so, that evening, the Great and Greedy Sky King bundled all the wisdom bestowed on him in a great sack. He filled that sack with all the wonders, and all the tools of wind and light,
rock and steel, and all the most inspiring and wise ideas, and all the listening quiet and stillness, and all the brightness, and the highest peaks and furthest horizons, and he flung it over his shoulder and begin to climb the vines that hung above his palace. He climbed higher and higher, greedy palm over greedy palm, until his greed could lift him no further, because the heavy sack was in his way. And it was there that the Sky King dangled, half between the sky and the heavens, when his son, the Prince of Reason, saw him. Now listen and hear what he said: “Father, why don’t you move the sack from just one shoulder and carry it across your back? Then maybe, Father, you can continue to climb.” The Great and Greedy Sky King was rather surprised, because usually whenever he wanted more greedy grub, greedy grub, greedy grub, it was his son whose questions reasoned him away from his miserly deeds. But at this idea the Sky King was delighted. For foolish greedy grubs are too full of greed to see when they’ve been tricked. And so, when the Sky King tried to shift the heavy sack from his shoulder to his back, it slipped and came crashing through the vine, CRASHING! CRACK! BOOM! scattering all over the earth and the land, covering the shores and plunging into the seven seas of the oceans, dusting the morning and noonday sun, seeping into the serene and celestial Land of Nod, and taking flight on the wind, drifting on the airwaves as if it had wings. And just as all stories go, here’s with a truth to close: The Sky King suddenly and too late saw what wisdom he lacked: A king without reason holds an empty sack. Saying so, the lesson is learned. So I’ve said—and this story is done and told.
BEYOND the STORY for Parents & Educators
“We cannot see what is ‘out there’ merely by looking around. Everything depends on the lenses through which we view the world. By putting on new lenses, we can see things that would otherwise remain invisible.” Parker J. Palmer, The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life
BEGINNERS: Pre K–Kindergarten OUR GREATER VISION: To trust that even our littlest ones can learn about evil, affliction and injustice, and not be overwhelmed by its shadows. To understand that while it’s our job to protect them from such harms, it’s also our duty to gradually grow their awareness of them while also growing their awareness of the forces that defeat them—things such as goodness, comfort, dignity and virtue. OUR MOST ILLUMINATING THOUGHTS: What happened when the Sky King didn’t share the wisdom? Where does wisdom really come from? What do you think the world needs most right now? SHARE THIS: Did you know that there really is a group of rulers from all around the earth who come together to share wisdom? They want to heal all heartaches and headaches all around. They are called the United Nations. OUR PRACTICE & INTENTION: Start speaking the language of wisdom to your children when your children are really young. For instance, instead of saying, “It’s time to put away your toys,” try something like this: “Wow, it’s really messy in here. Let’s be wise and put away the toys so that we can play with them again later.” Or, instead of saying, “It’s time for bed,” try something like this, “If we are wise and go to sleep now, we’ll have lots of energy to play tomorrow.” You can even try simply pointing out the wisdom that you see in daily routines, “Wow, it’s wise to look both ways before crossing the street.” After hearing the language of wisdom on a regular basis, children will start to notice when they see people being wise and when they do not. Of course, hope fully, they will become adults who possess inner wisdom and seek it in others.
THINKERS: Elementary OUR GREATER VISION: To allow space for our elementary kids to think, to reason, and to blossom. To help them identify with the Sky King’s son, the Prince of Reason, by helping them sort through their very black and white and sometimes blunt points of view. Ultimately, to balance their burgeoning sense of reason with compassion and empathy. OUR MOST ILLUMINATING THOUGHTS: What do you think the Sky King was afraid of? How do you think the rulers felt when the Sky King sent them away? Do you think the son was right to trick his father? What reason did he have? SHARE THIS: Have you heard of a ruler named Adolph Hitler? He thought he was very wise and killed people who he didn’t think were wise. It’s was really sad. But other rulers from other countries worked together to stop him. And guess what? Because of what he did, there were some good people from all over the world who gathered together and called themselves the United Nations. They worked to make sure that rulers can’t be like Adolph Hitler or the Sky King again. You wanna know how they did that? They made a list of rights that all humans deserve to have, and they challenged everyone in the world to protect those rights together. OUR PRACTICE & INTENTION: Read a book* about wise and foolish behavior but with compassionate reasoning. As you read, ask your kiddos questions like: Do you think they were afraid and that’s why they did that? Do you that what they did was wise? Do you think they thought this through? How do you think they felt? What was their reasoning for doing that? Have you felt that way before?
DREAMERS: Middle & High School OUR GREATER VISION: To prepare our dreamers to be responsible adults who trust their inner-knowing and common sense with equal portions of reason and wisdom to conduct themselves in the world. OUR MOST ILLUMINATING THOUGHTS: What problem or crisis do you think each Ruler of Creation represents in the real world? What Ruler of Creation would you most like to be: Mother of All Children? Padre of Land and Beasts? Empress of the Seven Seas of the Ocean? Minister of Morning, Noon and Night? Serene, Celestial Highness of the Land of Nod? Or the Imperial Majesty of All Winged Creatures That Take Flight? How do you personally carry wisdom? Are you a hoarder like the Sky King, a seeker like the Rulers of Creation, or a questioner of wisdom like the Prince of Reason? SHARE THIS: Look up the Universal Declaration of Rights. Ask your kid to find current organizations or leaders, other than the UN, who wisely embrace and exhibit these human rights (ie., Mala Yousafzai, The Nobel Peace Prize Committee, The Equal Justice Initiative, etcâ€Ś) OUR PRACTICE & INTENTION: Challenge your kid to write a letter or email to a current leader or great thinker, asking them a challenging question about a world problem that your kid cares deeply about.
AND KEEP THE CONVERSATION ABOUT WISDOM & LEADERSHIP GOING: Like the Sky King and his son, do you think kids sometimes can see things that adults can’t see? Is there something you see me do and you think there’s a better way to do it? If you could make one rule that the whole world had to follow, what would it be? Which one of your friends is the wisest? Who do you go to for advice? Is there something that you wish you could keep all for yourself? If you could make a request to the President of the United States, what would it be? If you had a crown like the rulers in the story, what two materials would it be made of and why? Where do you go to escape everyone? What’s the wisest decision you’ve ever made so far in your life? If you had the wisdom in the world to fix all the world’s problems, where would you begin? *RECOMMENDED BOOKS ABOUT WISDOM AND GOOD (& BAD) LEADERSHIP: Horrible Histories: Rotten Rulers by Terry Deary Watership Down by Richard Adams The Little Princess by Frances Hudgson Burnett Why Do Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale by Verna Aardema Wise Woman and Her Secret by Eve Merriam Aesop’s Fables by Aesop Solomon and the Ant: And Other Jewish Folktales by Sheldon Oberman
Mockingbird Telltale Letters is a quarterly digital newsletter that helps kids explore the inner-workings of history through storytelling. E...
Published on Nov 27, 2020
Mockingbird Telltale Letters is a quarterly digital newsletter that helps kids explore the inner-workings of history through storytelling. E...