The Whisperer

by Nick Butterworth (HarperCollins Books Great Britain 2004)

peace with ourselves-peace with each other

highly recommended and available in soft cover


You might be familiar with the story Nick develops but for one basic and essential difference. Nick's version of the Shakespearean classic tale, Romeo and Juliette, is a peace-building story. This timeless and heart warming love story about cats and a mischievous rat is for all ages to enjoy and share together and it 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

  •     ..and element that supports the idea that peace is possible

Two families of cats were fighting, yet amongst the turmoil two lovers tried to make sense of their dilemma. But the Whisperer, a wily rat, who was happy to have the cats continue to fight as this meant their attentions would not be focussed upon capturing him, revealed their secret love affair. Unlike the Shakespearean tragedy the lovers in this story instilled a new way of thinking.

So how does the story end???

......happily with everyone winning even the rat but he chose to leave

...and tragedy was averted with love prevailing.

This wonderful story is an example of how traditional and classic tales

can be transformed into peace-building stories.

There is always hope....and all will be well.

Critical questions to explore with children

  • Why did the rat want the cats to continue fighting?
  • How did he reveal the lovers' secret to their families?
  • What decision was made by the cats?
  • What surprise did the lovers have for their families?
  • How did Shakespeare's original version of Romeo and Juliette end?
  • Why did the rat choose to leave?
  • Do you think the cats would honour the truce and never again fight?
  • Does the story have a happy win-win ending?

Creative questions to explore with children

  • What do you think the cats were fighting about?
  • What do you think of rats?
  • Why were the cats angry with the lovers?
  • Do you think the lovers were wise to leave their families?
  • Why do you think the kittens softened the hearts of the cats?
  • What was so special about Tiger?
  • Do you think their might be more kittens like Tiger being born?
  • How else could the story have ended with win-win?

Teaching and Learning for Peace Foundation October 2005

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