The Little Mouse and Hope

The Little Mouse and Hope

By Ruth Humphreys

The little mouse was confused, something had happened, a very bad thing. Her mum and dad were upset. A dark cloud seemed to hangover their tree, even though it was sunny outside, someone had turned out the lights.

Little mouse wanted to play and no one would play with her. It’s a sad day they said. She sat and listened to her mum and dad.
“There’s always hope”, said her mum, “we need to find hope”.

The little mouse had an idea. Perhaps I can help, I need to find hope said the little mouse to herself. But where to find it.

She walked down the path, she came across a squirrel hurriedly picking up nuts to store away.
“I’m looking for hope”, she said to the squirrel.
“Hope” said the squirrel, “hope has gone”.
“Ok” replied the little mouse. “Don’t worry I’m going to find it”.
The squirrel smiled. “Do tell me if you find it” he said, and the little mouse promised that she would.
The little mouse thought to herself, so if it’s not here It must be somewhere else.

The little mouse continued through the wood and met a badger, digging a sett
“Hello” said the little mouse, “I’m looking for hope”.
“Hope” said the badger gruffly, “there is no hope here”.
“oh” said the little mouse, “don’t worry I will find it”
“ok” said the badger, “do come back and tell me if you do”.

Hmm thought the little mouse to herself if it is not here it must be somewhere else.

The little mouse continued through the wood, where she saw a rabbit.

“I’m looking for hope” said the little mouse to the rabbit. The rabbit sniffed the air.
It’s disappeared.” he replied.

“Disappeared?”, said the little mouse, “perhaps it is invisible?”.

“Perhaps” said the rabbit, “Do tell me if you find it.”

So the little mouse continued down the road.

The little mouse was so tired, how could she find hope if she could’t even see it.
The little mouse sat down on a tree trunk to rest , the sun was warm on her back. A honey bee flew over to her

“I’m looking for hope” said the little mouse to the bee
“Hope, said the bee what is hope?”

Well said the little mouse I think it makes you feel happier when you are sad. Ahh said the bee “perhaps then it’s this flower, it makes me feel happy”.
The little mouse sniffed the flower, it smelt good,
“perhaps this is hope” said the little mouse.

Just then a bird flew over, I know where to find hope she said, she flew over to some wild strawberries. The little mouse had a bite.
“I think that could be hope too.”

The little mouse ran off to tell her friends.
There was the badger.
“Come quick” she said I’ve found hope.”
Then the rabbit. ‘I’ve found hope” she called out.
And finally the squirrel.
“I’ve found hope but I need to do something first.”

The little mouse ran all the way home. Back home she called out to her mum and dad,
“I’ve found hope.”
“Really” they replied and followed the little mouse out the door.

There were the animals, the squirrel, the badger, the rabbit, the bird and so many other creatures, sitting talking and eating and playing together.

“Ah there’s hope” said the little mouse’s mum, hugging her,

“It was here all along”.

And they joined the party.

———————

I wrote this story last summer as a result of the unrest in the U.K, with current situation in the US it once again feels very relevant. I hope it gives some comfort and hope to children and inner children everywhere.

 

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My summer of stories

So it is September but before the kids go back to school and the dark nights settle in I thought I would share some of the highlights of the summer. I have had an incredible summer of storytelling.  Beginning with the Yoga Festival in June and ending with the Enchanted Fairy Festival a few weeks ago. In between I have also told stories at picnics, summer schools and with families.

Here are some of the highlights:

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Enchanted Forest Fairy Festival, photo by Rays of Violet Energy Healing

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International Yoga Day Maidenhead . Photo by Rajesh Mehmi

I’ve also written a number of new stories

One for adults ( inner kids)- The Gift of the Messenger 

One aimed more at children – Little Mouse and Hope

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So all set for September!

A place at the table- Inclusive children’s books

A few weeks ago I went to the second A place at the Table event run by Inclusive Minds, these events bring together publishers, authors, agents, all who are passionate and active in promoting and creating inclusive children’s books. That is books that are reflect every child and their family, regardless of race, ethnic minority, same sex parenting, gender fluidity, disability etc. So much was discussed with some incredible people from across the publishing industry.

The key

The key  points that came away with was ‘It is all about story ‘ good children’s books need to have a good story

Intersectionality– The importance of intersectionality, that is the we can not be pigeon hole, some one can be a member of the LGBT community and an ethic minority for example or disabled and gender fluid etc.

Main stream publishers want diverse books, as I sat around the table it was clear that big main stream publishers are crying out for good quality diverse book  with a good story. This was actual quite an eye opener for me as I have always assumed anything slightly alternative would only be published by a small indie publisher or self published. Some main stream publishers are beginning to open lists specifically for example to BAME writers in order to attract interest. As this was something which was discussed a lot, it is hoped that many more will follow suit.

Being visible but not pigeon holed

There was continuous discussion about if inclusive books are commercially viable and we touched on the issue of how to make sure bookshops and readers know where to find inclusive books, while making sure that the books don’t end up being seem as issue books and put in a special section. Tagging and indexing books gives a possible way into this and I believe Ferma tagging is one to investigate.

It has been repeatedly mentioned that we need a gay Harry Potter, or similar block buster character to really break down the fears of inclusive books and being commercially viable.

So what can we do as writers, storytellers, publishers and others in the publishing industry.

Inclusive Minds Charter

Follow Inclusive Minds, they have set up a charter for publishers to show their commitment to inclusive books. This is being looked at again but I believe the more of us that sign up to this, the will be a way of showing a very real commitment to the cause.

It’s all about the story

It’s all about the story, I’ve said it before but we are so past the issue’s book, we need inclusive books with diverse characters but it does not need to actually be about the diversity. Yes it will effect the story but it is not for example a story about a person who is gender fluid, but an adventure story with a character who is transgender etc etc

We don’t know

Say I don’t know but I am prepared to learn. Something that came across loud and clear is many of us don’t really know enough, but there are people out there who do. Beth and Alex have brought together a panel of young people and their parents to advise on books, there are also other resources out there.

Non- negotiable

Over all  this is a really exciting time for inclusive children’s books. What I saw at the conference was passionate people in the industry who want see this as part and parcel of the publishing industry. I think that we are getting to a time where the young people who did not grow up with books that reflected their own background are taking a stand and saying we need these books. We are not going to let another generation, perhaps our children, nieces and nephews or children in our lives fail to see themselves in the pages of their favourite books. And what is exciting is that the people who can make this happen, the editors, publishers, agents etc are now in the driving seat.

Next steps

As for myself I am going to make inclusive storytelling even more central to my work, as I truly believe that children need stories that reflect themselves and the wonderful diverse world we live in.

More information: 

Inclusive Minds Report for A Place Around the Table 2016

Inclusive Minds 

Book sellers call for more diverse books: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/booksellers-call-more-diverse-kids-books-335556