Promised Land: LGBTQ Children’s Book Read Aloud [FULL]
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Promised Land: LGBTQ Children’s Book Read Aloud [FULL]

Promised Land Written by Adam Reynolds
and Chaz Harris Illustrated by Christine Luiten and Bo Moore Once upon a time, in a land not far away, A place where no one cared if you were straight or you were gay, A Prince and a farm boy both longed to be free. One day they met, what happened next? Let’s turn the page and see… On a farm by a forest lived a restless young farm boy called Jack, who was always getting in trouble for not doing his chores. One morning, Jack woke up to hear his mother Carol yelling out for him to set the table. Charging recklessly into the kitchen, Jack knocked Carol right off her feet! Frustrated and fed up, Carol decided it was time Jack learned a thing or two about responsibility. She led him out to the barn, where a surprise was waiting. Jack nudged the door open to be greeted by an explosion of golden hay, revealing a puppy! Giggling through a slobbery kiss, he named the excitable pup Milo. Carol stifled her own laughter, making Jack promise to look after his furry new friend, no matter what. Later that day, Jack and Milo fetched water from the well. Behind them, the trees began to twist and turn with a life of their own. Milo barked, alerting Jack to an eerie path… a path Jack was sure had not been there moments ago. At its entrance hovered a mysterious glowing blue orb. Milo bolted towards the light as it darted off down the trail. “Milo, wait!” Jack exclaimed, as he dropped his bucket and sprinted after him. Deep in the forest, Jack and Milo chased the peculiar light up the trunk of a giant old tree. Though they climbed to the treetops above, the light was nowhere to be found. Instead, in the distance, they had a spectacular view of the palace and kingdom beyond. Meanwhile, at the palace, a lonely young Prince named Leo was looking out from a balcony. All his life, the Prince had admired his mother, Queen Elena, especially her grace with a sword. For this reason, Leo was often caught trying to challenge the Queen’s guards to a duel. The Prince longed for adventure and a friend his own age, but was forbidden to go beyond the palace walls. That evening, like all others before it, Queen Elena came to read her son a story about a brave warrior who died defending a forest. However, on this particular night, their tale was cut short by the arrival of a visitor. Elena went down to greet her mystery guest, leaving Leo to finish his book alone. Leo crept downstairs and peered inside the throne room to discover Gideon, a charismatic man, kissing his mother’s hand. Gideon’s eyes narrowed as he spotted the prying young Prince and, behind Queen Elena’s back, swiftly closed the door and shut Leo out. With a villainous grin, Gideon turned to face the Queen. An ominous crimson light radiated from a medallion around his neck, hypnotising Elena. The emerald in her crown absorbed the medallion’s magic, turning it from a deep green to scarlet red. The Queen was now under Gideon’s control. Back in the forest, as Jack and Milo climbed down the tree, a branch suddenly twisted beneath their feet, throwing them to the ground with a thud! “Allow me to introduce myself…” a soulful voice beckoned from the bark. They froze and slowly looked up, to find the blue light had returned, this time in the form of a face. Jack shrieked, Milo yelped, and they both ran home as fast as their feet could carry them! Jack told his mother of their strange encounter, which she revealed had been the tree spirit named Eve. “Her magic controls the flowers, crops and trees,” Carol explained. She warned Jack that there are some in this world who would seek to control Eve, for wealth and power, and, as the guardians of the forest, they must keep her secrets at any cost. Carol made Jack promise never to tell anyone about Eve, for no good would come of it. The power of Gideon’s spell over the Queen grew stronger by the day. Elena had stopped reading to Leo. In fact, she had stopped noticing him at all. Upset by his mother’s neglect, Leo snuck out of the palace. Not knowing his way, he was soon lost and alone in the woods, spooked by a voice on the breeze. Crack! Something fell from the trees above Leo. It was Jack! He had been climbing the tree to visit Eve. As the two boys leapt to their feet, Jack recognised Leo immediately, “You’re the Prince!” stammered Jack, taking an awkward bow. When asked why a Prince was wandering the woods alone, Leo explained he was on an adventure. Jack returned a mischievous grin, declaring, “Well, you’ve come to the right place for that!” Each day, Jack and Leo met secretly in the forest. Years passed by and their friendship blossomed; side by side, they grew from boys into young men. Meanwhile, the power of a more troubling bond had grown stronger, as it was announced that Gideon and Queen Elena were to be married. As winter fell across the land, the whole kingdom gathered for the grand celebration. Distressed by his mother’s decision to marry, Leo tried to convince her that Gideon was up to no good, but his warnings went unheeded. Queen Elena was still enchanted by Gideon’s spell, and Leo had no choice but to watch the wedding ceremony in dismay. At the wedding banquet, Gideon approached Carol, who curtseyed bashfully, delighted by her first meeting with royalty. However, when Gideon pressured her about selling their land, Carol’s friendly smile soon faded. “The land cannot be bought or owned by anyone. Not now, not ever!” she vowed. Leaning in, Gideon whispered, “I know what you’re hiding.” Carol huffed angrily, and stormed out of the palace, leaving Gideon brooding in her wake. In the ballroom, the guests watched Elena and Gideon enjoy their first dance. Leo sat in a corner looking glum, until a hand reached out towards him. Glancing up, Leo saw Jack offering a warm and supportive smile. Taking his hand, they fled the palace together, leaving the celebration behind. In the forest, Leo told Jack he was more than his best friend. “I feel like I can tell you anything,” he said. Jack felt the same way, but there was one secret he had not yet told Leo. Hesitating a moment, Jack remembered his mother’s
warning, then called out Eve’s name. That night, Eve showed herself to Leo in a spectacular display of fireflies and lights in the sky. As the forest serenaded them, Jack and Leo danced together until dawn. Jack was relieved to have no more secrets between them; the truth about Eve was out. However, trouble was waiting just around the corner… As the sun rose, they made their way to the edge of the forest, where, without warning, Jack was grabbed by the collar. It was Gideon! Guards seized Leo as Gideon turned to Jack with a sneer. “Your mother has until sunset to give me this land… if she doesn’t, I’ll be back with an army and you’ll never see your precious Prince again!” Jack’s face filled with dread as Leo was taken away in a carriage. Racing towards home, Jack ran into Carol, who had been searching the woods for him. He told her of Gideon’s plan and professed his feelings for Leo. Unsure how to help Leo and save the land as well, Carol summoned Eve. Appearing through the trees, Eve reassured them, “If you care for the land, the land will care for you. Have no fear, help is here, and I know what to do!” As night fell, Queen Elena gazed blankly upon Gideon leading an army of guards out of the palace. Above the forest, a swarm of blue light swirled into the air, forming images in the sky. Eve revealed to Elena all the evil she had been blind to. Gideon had not married her for her heart, but to steal her throne. The Queen’s eyes flashed blue, and the emerald green of the gem in her crown returned. Gideon’s spell was broken. Entering the dungeon, the Queen found her son locked behind bars and ordered his release. Leo warned her of Gideon’s plan and confided in his mother how he felt for Jack. Elena recognised her own son’s love to be true and commanded the guard to fetch her horse. Gideon and the army marched steadily through the forest towards the farm. Around them, the trees and roots began to bend and shift, luring them into a trap. The trees whomped and the vines slithered, entangling the guards until they could no longer move. Devious as ever, Gideon managed to slip past with a few guards in tow. Reaching the farm, Gideon gave one last chance for surrender, but Carol refused to give in. The guards seized Carol and Jack, as Gideon growled, “If you won’t leave by choice, then I’ll make you!” Gideon took his torch and lit the farmhouse on fire. From the blazing building, Jack heard a frantic bark; Milo was trapped inside! Wrestling himself free, Jack rushed into the burning house as Carol watched on in panic. Galloping hooves announced the arrival of the Queen and her son. Fearing for Jack’s life, Leo leapt from the horse and sprinted inside after him. Elena confronted Gideon, ordering him to surrender or pay with his life. Outraged, Gideon hissed, “Who are you to dare threaten me?” The blade of Elena’s sword glistened in the moonlight as she drew it and roared, “I am your Queen!” Unsure which side to take, the guards watched in confusion as Gideon and Queen Elena fought. Seeing her chance, Carol pleaded for their help to put out the growing inferno. The guards formed a line from the well, passing buckets of water to dampen the flames before it was too late. Fire licked the walls inside the house as Leo reached Jack and Milo. Above them, a wooden beam fell and blocked their only way out! Flames closed in, forcing them upstairs and into Jack’s room, where Milo barked and ran straight to the window. Throwing it open, Jack and Leo surveyed the snow-covered ground far below. Jack hesitated until Leo offered his hand. Holding onto each other, they stepped out onto the ledge, counted to three and jumped! Moving with the grace of a swan, the Queen fought Gideon across the surface of the frozen river, soon pinning him to the ice. As Gideon begged for mercy, Elena snatched the medallion from around his neck and drove her sword through its ruby heart, destroying the dark magic inside. Gideon’s power over her was gone and Queen Elena banished him from the kingdom forever. Carol and Elena watched in horror as the farmhouse collapsed in an explosion of fire and smoke. Covered in ash, Jack emerged through the snow, cradling Leo in his arms. Milo plodded beside them, head down and somber. The Prince had not stirred since they had jumped from the house. Softly placing Leo on a bed of clean, white snow, tears filled Jack’s eyes. “I love you,” he whispered, as a tear rolled down his cheek and fell onto Leo’s face. The Prince’s eyes flickered; he was alive after all! Leo smiled up at Jack and said, “I love you too.” The years passed by and the green lands came back, As people told stories of Leo and Jack. There was peace and abundance with the Queen’s sole rule; The kingdom thrived without Gideon the cruel. And the Prince and the farm boy who longed to be free? They got married and started their own family. With love and with joy, and a life full of laughter, The Prince and the farm boy lived happily ever after… The End


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