WATCH: The little gnome who had to stay at home

The Little Gnome Who Had To Stay Home - illustration by Gracie Perrow (http://susanperrow.com/)
The Little Gnome Who Had To Stay Home - illustration by Gracie Perrow (http://susanperrow.com/)

Susan Perrow is an Australian author whose passion is stories and storytelling.

She is also a teacher trainer and parent educator with 30 years of experience documenting stories from numerous cultures, writing stories and telling stories to groups of children and adults, from Australia to Africa, Asia, China, Europe and North America.

She currently has three published story collections, in a total of 10 languages. 

The little gnome

For anyone new to 'story medicine', stories can help navigate the emotions that come with different kinds of loss and challenging situations.

By dressing the truth with the fabric of the imagination, she believes, stories can help the process of weaving the truth into everyday life, especially with young children.

Perrow wrote The little gnome who had to stay at home to encourage acceptance of the current 'social distancing' situation, and to help motivate the children to find and enjoy activities that they can do within the home. 

This story was written for young children aged 3 to 5, who are required to stay home during the current Covid-19 pandemic, or who have otherwise had their freedom severely modified.

Perrow wrote this story with a 'mirroring' structure - the story simply reflects the situation and expands upon it with images that help share a message that is too strong to state directly with little children.

Adapt to suit your situation

The story is open-ended, and as the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown continues this is useful in that it offers no promises. 

The song at the end has been left open for teachers and parents to create more verses with ideas from the children.

The story can be changed to suit different situations, and readers are encouraged to substitute their own characters. For example, mother tree could be father tree or grandmother or grandfather tree, or you may want to omit the part about ‘gnome school’.

The main character could also be changed - instead of using a gnome the story could be about a mouse stuck in his little house, or a bird that must stay and rest in the nest.

Watch a puppet show of the lovely story here, then read the simple story or watch the animation below:

Read the story:

Little gnome was confused.

Why did he have to stay home?

Didn’t everyone know how little gnomes love to roam!

He couldn’t go to gnome school, he couldn’t play with his friends in the forest, and his friends couldn’t visit him.

Little gnome was stuck in his tree-root home.

At least he could look out his window through the rocks and the tree roots. He was surprised that there was so much to see.

Little ants were scurrying by, brightly coloured beetles were climbing up and down the fallen leaves and floppy eared rabbits were hopping in and out their burrows.

But even with all these things to watch, little gnome was growing impatient. Why did he have to keep on staying home?

It didn’t make sense to him why he could not roam.

Then Mother Tree whispered to him: ‘Things are not as they used to be - but trust me - soon you will be free - trust me, trust me.’

Little gnome knew in his heart that he could always trust Mother Tree. Mother Tree carried the wisdom of the whole forest!

Mother Tree knew all about everything.

The birds and the wind were her friends and messengers. They visited her every day sharing the news of the big wide world.

Little gnome could hear when the birds came by. He could hear them singing high up in the branches of Mother Tree.

Little gnome could see when the wind was visiting. He could see the branches swaying this way and that.

He sometimes had to close his window to keep out the leaves and dust stirred up by this busy friend!

Every day Mother Tree continued to whisper to him: 'Things are not as they used to be - but trust me - soon you will be free - trust me, trust me.'

So little gnome had to trust, and little gnome had to wait.

Soon he knew he would be free again to leave his home amongst the rocks and tree roots. Soon he knew he would be free to roam once again in the beautiful forest.

And while he waited, he was surprised how many things he could find to do in his cosy little treeroot home.

Little gnome can dance

Little gnome can sing

Little gnome can paint and draw

And do somersaults across the floor.

Little gnome can dance

Little gnome can sing

Little gnome can clean and cook

And curl up with a picture book.

Little gnome can dance

Little gnome can sing

Little gnome can ………………………….

And ………………………………………………..

Little gnome can dance

Little gnome can sing

Little gnome can ………………………….

And ………………………………………………..

Little gnome can dance

Little gnome can sing

Little gnome can ………………………….

And ………………………………………………..

This story will be included in the 'loss of health and well-being’ section in Perrow's next book, entitled, 'Stories to Light the Night: A Grief and Loss Collection for Children, Families and Communities' (due to be published late 2020 by Hawthorn Press, UK).

The book will have more than 80 stories in different sections, with stories for the loss of a loved one, loss of place, loss of family connection, loss of a pet, loss of health and well-being, loss of trust, and environmental grief and loss. 

Find the rhyming version of this story, and more therapeutic stories like this, here

Here's an animation of the simple tale: 

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