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. Because as an adult, you prefer… how should I say this… umm… is “boring” the word? No, that might be too harsh. Maybe… umm… “tame”? Yes, tame. That’s it. I’ll go with tame. Let me begin again: 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. Because as an adult, you might prefer more tame stories like “How to Get Out Stains,” or “10 Kinds of Curtains,” or “How to Declog the Shower.” But if you wanna be a good adult from time to time, you have to read fun things to your kids, your nieces, your nephews, your grandkids, the kids you teach at Sunday school. Because you and I both know kids just don’t care all that much about stains, or curtains, or clogs. It’s not their job. Their job is go find something fun to do! Your job is to let them do it! So how are you, an adult who prefers tame things, supposed to read something as wild and undomesticated as a Mockingbird Tale Tell Letter? Here are some tips: - First take a deep breath in and a deep breath out – but do it as if you were an elephant - Next, let out three hoots like an owl - Lastly, bray your head like a horse (or even better, like you’re a unicorn or a pegasus!) Now how’d that feel? Did you feel a little silly? I know you’re not used to having a good ole cattywampus* of a time. But you have to admit, it’s far more fun than all that yawning you usually do. Go on and admit you had fun! Now, begin the story remembering this feeling. Sincerely, Respectfully, Cordially and with Warm Wishes, Appreciation and Best Regards, The Tale Teller *For kiddos who don’t know what cattywampus is: first of all, you haven’t lived until you’ve had a good and proper cattywampus. A cattywampus is when you become an imaginary animal gone wild!!! You know that book Where the Wild Things Are? (Or is it called Where Are All The Wild Things At?) Anyway, if you don’t, have an adult read you that book immediately! ‘Cause let me tell you, in that book, Max gets all dressed up and has a good old cattywampus! Let the Wild Rumpus Start!
*Telltale Letters *
Daring and Imagination Edition Table of Contents Story: THE TALE of TWEE-LA MOUSE Page 4
BEYOND the STORY Page 7
Beginners: PRE K–KINDERGARTEN Page 8
Thinkers: ELEMENTARY Page 9
Dreamers: MIDDLE & HIGH SCHOOL Page 11
ay, way, down, down in the lush green valley, once there lived and once there was a town where only mice, brown, plump and furry, lived. They were as quiet and as simple as ever a town of mice there ever was, which is why they named their town Whispering Winds. And every little mouse there took a vow to live ever so quietly, so that none would make a single sound louder than the whisper of the wind. They lived simply, preferring the ways of old, frolicking in their fur, skittering at the sound of even the slightest snap of twigs as thin as their whiskers, burrowing silently way down deep in the lush green valley, where every mouse and every little mouse that every little mouse knew took pride in whispering about just how careful and satisfied was their living. Well, that is every little mouse save for one. Because that’s how all good stories are told, there’s always one who is not like any other. Twee-La Mouse was the kind of little mouse that if she’d been a person, she would have been the kind who always wore a little green cap and a fine leather message bag slung across her chest, and a billowy, white silk scarf with pale yellow dots, expertly knotted at her neck. But since she was only a mouse, she only looked this way in her great and wide imagination. And a great and wide imagination she did indeed have. It was as wide and great as the mountains that surrounded the whole of the valley. Twee-La Mouse imagined that there was more to living than just frolicking in her fur, skittering at the sound of even the slightest snap of twigs as thin as her whiskers, and burrowing silently way down deep in the lush green valley. Deep down in her
heart she took no pride at all in being careful and satisfied. And though Twee-La Mouse loved her town and every little mouse and every little mouse that every little mouse knew, she also long wondered what if there was more beneath the wind than Whispering Winds. She often whispered in the dark of the night to the quietly glinting stars, “Is there something more out there? Perhaps something just over the mountaintop?” But the stars who long ago took a vow of silence never answered. One day as she was frolicking and skittering, Twee-La Mouse imagined she was wearing her little green cap and her fine leather messenger bag slung across her chest and a billowy, white silk scarf with pale yellow dots expertly knotted at her neck, and she frolicked and skittered until she frolicked and skittered herself to the top of the mountain where no other little brown mouse, plump and furry, from Whispering Winds, had ever gone before. And she looked down the side of the mountain and saw another valley way, way, down, down, green and lush. So she frolicked and skittered her way down until she was gleefully burrowed in a little town in the lush green valley filled with little brown mice who were also plump and furry but wearing caps and scarves, aprons and boots, sweaters and skirts, fine leather messenger bags and suspenders, knee socks and wire-rimmed eye glasses. Just like in her town of Whispering Winds, every little mouse in this little town knew every little mouse and every little mouse that every little mouse knew. But unlike in her hometown, these mice took pride in squeaking loudly about just how busy and hurried was their living—and they loudly hurried and scurried about their way everywhere in the town. They were so busy hurrying and scurrying in their sandals and capes, neckties and tap shoes, blazers and backpacks, that none had noticed Twee-La Mouse, who sat shocked to see such a flurry of coming and going. Finally, she timidly asked a brown mouse wearing a vest and top hat, “Excuse me, what is the name of this town?” But Twee-La Mouse was not used to squeaking loudly, and her voice was no louder than a whisper of wind. She tried again, this time timidly asking a brown mouse wearing a baseball hat and tutu, “Excuse me, what is name of this fine town?” But again, the mouse couldn’t hear her. And suddenly, Twee-La Mouse missed her home, Whispering Winds, where she knew every little mouse and every little mouse that every little mouse knew could hear her. So she returned over the mountaintop, frolicking and skittering all the way back to her home. The next day in her town, when all the other mice around her frolicked in their fur, skittered at the sound of even the slightest snap of twigs as thin as their whiskers, burrowed silently way down deep in the lush green valley, where every little mouse and every little mouse that every little mouse knew took pride in whispering about just how careful and satisfied was their living, Twee-La Mouse told them this: “I like to listen to the whispers in the wind and I like to
talk to the silent stars. I like to hear the green grass go swish swish between my toes and I love the way the tall reeds hum against my whiskers. And I think I’d like to someday wear a little green cap and a fine leather message bag slung across my chest, and a billowy, white silk scarf with pale yellow dots expertly knotted at my neck and maybe go and learn the name of that town full of mice dressed in calico and velvet, muslin and corduroy, just over the mountaintop.” And when she finished speaking, every little mouse and every little mouse that every little mouse knew turned to her, lay a finger to their whiskers and said, “sssshhhhhh… Twee-La Mouse… ssshhhhh… We can’t hear. The wind is still speaking.”
Beyond the Story for Parents & Educators
“It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations – something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own.” Katherine Paterson, A Sense of Wonder: On Reading and Writing Books for Children
Beginners: Pre K–Kindergarten OUR GREATER VISION: To help our little ones understand that sometimes, even when something is true and important, people don’t listen. Kids actually know this because often we are the ones who are too busy or too focused on the rules to really listen to the truest things in their hearts. And that’s okay. Adults are not perfect. We do our best. It’s okay for kids to know that sometimes, other people won’t hear them, but that doesn’t mean their experiences aren’t good or true. OUR MOST ILLUMINATING THOUGHTS: What did Twee-La Mouse see when she went over the mountaintop? Why couldn’t the mice in the other town hear her? Do you think all the mice in Whispering Winds should have listened to her? SHARE THIS: Did you know that there are lots of people with great ideas but no one heard or listened to them? But they kept telling people their ideas, and eventually those ideas came to be true. There was a time when no girls ever wore pants but one girl kept saying it was a good idea for girls to wear pants. But some people thought it was a bad idea. So one day she made a pair, and now anyone can wear pants, or robes, or caps, or capes, or roller skates. Her name was Elizabeth Smith Miller. OUR PRACTICE & INTENTION: Start priming your child’s imagination. When you’re driving and pass a road that you’ve never taken before, say aloud: I wonder what it’s like to live down that street. Or, when it’s bed time, you might ask: “Do you think the stars are listening to us?” Or, you might imagine an outfit that you’d like: “I wish I had a cool red hoodie and a pocket watch with a chain.” Allow your kids the space and language of wonder and imagination. Also, take some daring adventures with them. Turn down a street that you’ve never driven down before. Buy a bold item to wear and wear it! Be the first in the family to break an old tradition to start a new one. Make curiosity a gift so that when they do encounter something or someone who is different and new—like Twee-La Mouse—they are open to the experience.
Thinkers: Elementary OUR GREATER VISION: To help our kiddos trust their experience and lean into new ones. To help them identify with Twee-La Mouse, the towns-mice of Whispering Winds, and the town that lay in the valley just over the mountaintop, and how each was experiencing the world. The goal is to expand their ability to empathize with the feelings and thoughts of those with whom they relate, and to hold in wonder and without punitive judgement the feelings and thoughts of those with whom they don’t relate. OUR MOST ILLUMINATING THOUGHTS: Why do you think Twee-La Mouse wanted all those little things like the little green hat? Do you think there were mice in the town over the mountain who wished to live in a quieter town like Twee-La Mouse’s? Tell me a question that you would ask the stars if you thought they were listening? Do you think Twee-La Mouse ever got her outfit to wear? If so, where’d she get it? If not, why do you think she didn’t? SHARE THIS: Did you know that there once was a person who was very much like Twee-La Mouse? Her name was Elizabeth Smith Miller, and just like Twee-La Mouse, she dreamt of a particular outfit. Elizabeth dreamt of wearing pants. Back when she was young, all the women in all the towns only wore dresses and skirts. But she would see men and boys wearing pants and wanted a pair for herself. So, one day, she sewed some and wore them. She was the first girl in all the towns to wear a pair of pants. OUR PRACTICE & INTENTION: Read a book about someone who dared to be the first to something that wasn’t the normal way of doing things. As you read, ask your kiddos questions like: Do you think they were afraid? Why did they want to do that? How do you think they felt? Have you felt that way before?
RECOMMENDED BOOKS ABOUT DARING & IMAGINATION Stories for Kids Who Dare to Be Different: True Tales of Amazing People Who Stood Up and Stood Out by Ben Brooks Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls – the entire series by Rebel Girls The Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak The House That Once Was by Julie Fogliano The Snowy Day by Ezra Keats The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson Charlie and Lola: I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child
Dreamers: Middle & High School OUR GREATER VISION: To help our dreamers trust what they feel, see, and experience.To trust their intuitive leanings, even though the world may not be interested in hearing about them. OUR MOST ILLUMINATING THOUGHTS: What do you think Twee-La Mouse really longed for? Which is better, a quiet town or one that’s full of hustle and bustle? What does your perfect outfit say about you? SHARE THIS: Tons of people were the first to do something or the first to point out something. But like Twee-La Mouse, the people around them didn’t see things the way they did—people like Claudette Colvin, Elizabeth Smith Miller, Clair Cameron Patterson, Albert Einstein, Kotoku Wamura, Sylvia Mendez, and so many more. OUR PRACTICE & INTENTION: Challenge your kids to take a daring look at something otherwise removed from them by crossing a perceived barrier. For example, watch a movie about a different people group from which you are excluded but are curious about—or even better, check out the life story of someone or a group that you are totally not curious about. My 18 year-old and I watched Chasing Happiness, a documentary about The Jonas Brothers. Neither of us had even a passing interest in them, but we were surprised to find that we had some things in common with them. We also watched Hillary, a documentary about Hillary Clinton, and again were surprised that we had so much in common with her. AND KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING ABOUT DARING & IMAGINATION: Can you be daring without having much imagination? Likewise, is imagination a form of daring? What would you change about the way we live, if you could change anything? Have you ever felt that no one was listening? Do you think the stars are watching us? What do you suppose they think of us?
When was the last time you opened up and shared something personal with someone? Did you feel heard? When was the last time someone opened up to you? Do you think you were a good listener? What makes a good listener? Who’s the most daring person you know? Who do you think is pointing out something that’s true, but we’re not listening?
Mockingbird Telltale Letters is a quarterly digital newsletter that helps kids explore the inner-workings of history through storytelling. E...
Published on Mar 6, 2021
Mockingbird Telltale Letters is a quarterly digital newsletter that helps kids explore the inner-workings of history through storytelling. E...