Once upon a time when kings and queens ruled magnificent African kingdoms of long, long ago, there was a handsome prince. This was not an ordinary prince who stayed close to the throne where life was comfortable and safe. This was a young prince who loved adventure and excitement. When he was not traveling to faraway lands with the queen’s merchants, he could most often be found training with the king’s warriors.
One evening when the prince and warriors were returning to the kingdom, they came upon an old man who lay on the ground hurt. The prince helped the stranger up but found that the old man was too weak to walk. The prince ordered warriors to carry the man back to the kingdom.
When he was well enough, the old man thanked the prince for saving his life and explained that he was a sorcerer of sorts. At one time, he was even considered to be a very great sorcerer. But, he had long since lost interest in magical things. “Nothing can compare to what is natural and beautiful. No magic can create a star-filled sky or a sunset rich with color. The only thing I have kept from my days as a great sorcerer,” he said, “is a magic ring.”
He went on to explain that he had been attacked by someone who tried to steal the powerful ring from him, “You see anyone who knows how to bring forth the great magic of the ring can have almost anything their heart desires. The only things it cannot offer are health and eternal youth. It is said that fairies who dwell high in the mountains guard magical waters that spring forth with those gifts.”
The old man was pampered. He was fussed over and carried to and fro so that his feet barely touched the ground. But he left the kingdom as soon as he was strong enough. He returned home to his two daughters.
On the very first page of the story, we are transported to a wondrous African kingdom of long, long ago. We thought it was integral to invite readers to share in the very important opening of the story where they meet the prince in his natural habitat.
Many times, when Africa is referenced in popular work, it has a certain reputation for wildlife and the Sahara, and not much else. While this is not inaccurate, it certainly is one tried-and-true (and tired) way to showcase what “Africa”-a continent with very many different countries, regions, and histories- has to offer. Though we lack a true artist’s hand to display this prince’s specific kingdom for our book, we hope readers imagine with us a thriving and diverse, lush scenery during an enchanting time where noble princes lived against such a backdrop.
And what about our prince? Well, firstly, as the story reads, “This was not an ordinary prince who stayed close to the throne where life was comfortable and safe.” While he could choose to live in the lavish lifestyle afforded to the royalty in his nation, he had a spirit that called for much more than lazing in the lap of luxury. He wanted adventure, travel, and excitement—and he wanted to be in the thick of it all. This trait makes the prince even more princely in our eyes.
But along with a thirst for wanting more than what the throne has to offer, the reader sees that our prince is not only endowed with a pure spirit, but a big heart. He does not hesitate to help a fallen stranger in his path and have even his own personal warriors carry him back to the kingdom for help. It would be this instinctual desire to help a completely downtrodden stranger that would set on him on a course that would change his life…..
With images of noble black male characters in children’s literature few and far between, the prince in our story will instantly stand as a hallmark for recognition of positive and multifaceted images of black characters.
The Prince and Timberance is a chapter book recommended for ages 8-12, but can be read aloud to children of all ages. Read excerpts like this, and others, where you can order your copy at www.enchantedroots.com.
Thank you for dreaming with us!