The Gift

by Libby Hathorn illustrated by Gregory Rogers (Random House Australia 2000)

peace with ourselves-peace with each other

recommended but unavailable - maybe a copy in your local library


Author Libby Hapthorn has magically transformed a classic tale’s ending creating a new story of hope. Set in Hamelin the reader is immediately reminded of the legend of the Pied Piper whose alluring notes led the city’s children away forever, except for one, the hero in the story.

This transformative addition to a legendary tale for all ages to enjoy and share together contains many peace-building elements:

  • happy endings

  •     everyone winning

  • nonviolent resolution

  • imaginative and creative

  •     challenges existing stereotyping

  • faith and hope

  •     peace with the environment

  • finding personal peace

  •     … element that supports the idea that peace is possible

Unable to keep up with the piper when he left with the other children a small disabled boy was the only child left in Hamelin. He pondered his feelings of loneliness and despair but one day message, whispered to him by a stranger, led him to the Pied Piper who taught him how to play the flute. Despite disappointment the boy never lost hope that he may one day rescue the children and return them to Hamelin, even the ones who teased him. Like Kathleen Pelleys’ hero Rabbi dreamers can magically transform our world. These dreamers remain determined to achieve goals their goals holding faith in their belief that all will be well. The small boy believed that one day when he learned to play the right notes he would break the Piper’s spell and free the children. This clever story is one for all ages to enjoy and share together and reminds us of the importance of creating happy endings in all our own storytelling.

“A piper pipes what’s in his heart You can pipe them! Do your part!”

Fearless and determined dreamers can lead us away from debilitating hopelessness and helplessness towards a world that only knows peace.

In this story there are limited references to the sadness and despair created by the Pied Piper yet there is no mention of revenge or hatred. The small boy’s focus is only to learn the right tune notes to free the children despite the obstacles he must overcome to do so.

Critical questions to explore with children  

  • What legendary tale does the story follow on from?
  • Why was the boy the only child left in Hamelin?
  • What did the stranger whisper to him?
  • Did the Piper befriend the boy?
  • Why did the Piper break the boy’s flute?
  • Does the story have a happy win-win ending?

Creative questions to explore with children 

  • Was the Pied Piper a dangerous person?
  • Who was the stranger who whispered the message to the boy?
  • How else could the boy help free the children?
  • Do you think the parents missed their children?
  • Would they have also been searching for ways to free the children?
  • Can you think of other tales onto which you could build similar stories?

© Teaching and Learning for Peace Foundation February 2005

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