Once, there lived an unhappy prince and princess in a faraway land by the sea. Prince Sebastian and Princess Sequoia suffered through their days in a golden palace with their parents King Anton and Queen Melinda. Everyone in the castle complained! In fact, the entire kingdom shook with the thunder of constant complaining! Sebastian and Sequoia were disheartened. Outside were magnolias, sunflowers, starfish and waves. It was a feast of food for butterflies and a vision of beauty for human eyes! But no one bothered to enjoy it!
Each morning, Prince Sebastian looked from the ocean to the wooded lands. His eyes were the colour of the sky as he gazed at the town square. There, next to the turquoise wishing pond was the weathered sign for the territory, so overgrown with brambles and weeds the last word was hardly visible. “Kingdom of C,” was all he could read. And that’s the way it was.
One morning, a shoemaker climbed the grassy hill to the palace. Helpful Harry visited all the kingdoms to make them shoes. Now it was Queen Melinda and King Anton's turn, something he dreaded! But he pushed through, even though no one said, “How do you do?” or “Nice to see you!”
“Me first! Fit me first!” cried the king. So, Harry wrapped the king’s feet in moist strips of cloth and clay, then removed the molds and gently washed and dried each royal foot.
“Took you long enough!” the king protested.
Next came the querulous queen,” My turn now!"
And finally, the pouty prince and princess.
Even Harry started to grumble as he dried the slippers in the sun, then painted them orange, blue, green and yellow and headed away. “Some appreciation would be nice!” he muttered. “This Kingdom of Complaining can go barefoot next time!”
“Barefoot! How rude!” said Sebastian to Sequoia, watching Hateful Harry depart.
Sequoia mused, “Even the shoemaker complains in this place! At least the kingdom carnival is coming!”
The Festival of Feasting always featured musicians, clowns, and masterful chefs, but the town just grumbled!
“It’s too hot!”
“We need shade.”
Then, even though clouds conveniently appeared, the harpist frowned, “These clouds aren’t fluffy enough!” The citizens sadly shook their heads and snorted in disgust.
The chefs had worked for days and days making life-sized edible daffodils, roses and redwoods with espresso bark and cocoa limbs. They held their breath in anticipation, as parents tasted the bark and broke off branches for their children.
“This coffee is too bitter!” the adults whined, while many of the chefs shrank away.
“This chocolate is too chocolaty!” the children chimed and the sad head chef slumped as he went on his way.
The next day, Prince Sebastian sat on the wishing well looking at the line of long faces waiting to complain to his parents. One day he would inherit this kingdom and he wanted things to be different. Sequoia sat beside him bathed in sunlight, reminding him of a story his father told of tossing coins into the water and wishing for a beautiful bride who then appeared, perched on the edge, like Sequoia was now. Sebastian fished a coin from his royal pocket and flung it into the overgrown well. He closed his eyes and wished with all his might again and again! Opening his eyes, he saw Sequoia reach for the roses, where the rough thorns pricked her tiny fingers. "Ow!"
“Don’t touch those with your bare hands! And stop bothering me!” Sebastian cursed, striding away while Sequoia lingered behind.
Then, Sebastian saw a tall man in colourful silk robes standing behind a cart laden with shiny glasses. “I’m so glad you called me!” he declared. Sebastian looked around to see who else the gentleman could be speaking to, but they were alone.
“Me?” asked Sebastian, tilting his thumb toward his heart.
“My name is Tom. I heard you wishing. Your thoughts are so strong!”
“Me?” repeated Sebastian and he moved closer. This time his question blew the man’s hat off.
“Here,” said Tom, handing the boy a pair of sparkling shades, “these will help you find your way.”
Prince Sebastian looked down at the wide road. Silly old man! Couldn’t he see well enough already?
The lenses were smooth and cool in the prince’s hand. Putting them on he called, “Hey, Sequoia! You should try these!”
Sequoia peeped out from behind the wishing pond at Tom and the unusually friendly prince. Catching her eye, Tom tossed her some Spectacular Spectacles. She jumped and caught them with a quick clap of her hands, her sandy blonde braids skipping high in the air. Sequoia placed the frames firmly on the bridge of her nose. She looked at the well. The water shone vividly. She scooped some up and watched it stream onto the engraved marble sign. The word “Kingdom” glittered. She poured more across the next letters, “O”, “F” and “C”. Then she shook her hands dry, giggling. She looked up astounded at an unfamiliar sound. Sebastian was whistling as he ambled down the grassy slope to the sea.
“Barefoot! What a good idea!” he thought, following the shoreline home. He took off his socks and shoes to feel the warm sand and water. The wind soothed his soul as he leaped back and forth with the splashing tide. Deeply inhaling the fresh sea air, he addressed the ocean and starfish. “Thank you!”
He continued conversing with the grass and groves of sycamore trees. “Thank you!” he proclaimed, and as he passed everything whispered back, "You're welcome."
The next morning, Sebastian put on his new glasses and filled his knapsack with some festival leftovers, setting out for a new adventure. Passing a playground full of boys, he stopped and offered his candy that seemed to grow sweeter as he shared it. Receiving the chocolate redwood, the children cast him suspicious glances for the unexpected gift. They examined the slivers of toffee tree rings, then stuffed chunks in their mouths with growing smiles.
Arriving in the village, Sebastian paused, amazed by the colours and light reflecting off the smooth stone surfaces. He felt stronger and wiser, imagining happily sharing the kingdom with his sister. "What an idea!" he thought, "I'm changing!" Sebastian studied the mosaic of tiles leading to the wishing pond that was fed by glacial rivers flowing from the mountains to the ocean. He skipped pebbles on the turquoise water and noticed the children around him changing too. Girls laughed as they hopped along a bejewelled hopscotch board, from yellow to orange to red, then green, royal blue, sky blue and finally the violet crown in the last square. A new kingdom was being born before his eyes. “These glasses are amazing!” he thought.
That night, back at the palace, as the moon made its way across the quiet canopy of stars, Sebastian closed his eyes and slept. The windows were open as he inhaled the refreshing breeze and dreamed. Hummingbirds hovered by the roses and contented butterflies alighted on the pink and white flowers. His parents appeared relaxed in the courtyard and they joined in castle games. As sunrise lit the horizon and peach mist rose over dawn bedewed fields, Sebastian imagined his parents passing on the keys of the palace to him and Sequoia. The whole kingdom was cooperating. He awoke to delicate vibrations of prayer chimes on the morning wind.
Weeks passed. Sebastian brought more treasures and treats from the palace to share with others. He saw changes in Sequoia. Instead of hiding, she openly came with him. Filled with new purpose, the prince and princess rejoiced. Sequoia was brimming with a secret as she went off with her new friends, a small pair of gardening gloves tucked in her back pocket.
One memorable day, King Anton and Queen Melinda toured the kingdom. They saw laughing children and were astonished as adults emerged from their homes, joining the royal walk. They all arrived at the wishing pond where Sequoia and her friends stood clustered excitedly. There was a flourish of "oohs" and gasps of "aahs" as they stepped away. The sparkling sign beamed in the light. With all the brambles and dirt removed, the “Kingdom of C” now read the “Kingdom of Celebration”. Celebration had been in their name all along - they just hadn't seen it!
Hopeful Harry the shoemaker was marching past the kingdom at that moment and heard something strange - cheering! Curious, he ventured in. Villagers greeted him with “Hello Harry!” and parted with a heartfelt, “Good day to you, sir!”
Sequoia had been so happy since the day they met Tom, she wasn’t sure if she should tell her brother that recently he hadn’t been wearing his glasses. It seemed the magic was now inside him. She mentioned it one afternoon in the forest. "You're different, and you're not wearing your glasses!"
"It's true!” Sebastian agreed. “ I couldn't find them one day, but I felt so good I just kept doing what I was doing!"
Sequoia removed her glasses. "Me too!" She exclaimed. "I feel just as good without them!"
They spun on their heels and went to tell Tom about their discovery. His table was gone and where his cart had been was just a pile of leaves and rose petals. A breeze picked up, blowing colourful swirls into the air. Their attention was drawn to sunlight glinting off the clouds. There they saw Tom wink and smile as he waved, silk sleeves shimmering. They waved back and watched him on a golden chariot as he disappeared into the distance.
Catching his sister’s eye, Sebastian shouted, “Race you back to the palace!”And off they ran!
You can hear Drew narrate our story, along with the song "Oh Story Teller" performed by Nicole Scoffield & Victor Smith at our sound cloud site: