Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Books and TV interviews

March 19th, 2018

My latest book, Storytelling and Story-Reading in Early Years, published by Jessica Kingsley, has been receiving some good reviews and comment. If you’d like a copy just click on the appropriate button.

I’ve also just done an interview with Kathy Brodie for Early Years TV which has had some very nice comments and I’ll be putting it on this site shortly.

 

 

 

To buy your copy in UK/Europe,  simply click the first button below and follow the instructions



If you’re outside Europe (bit more expensive postage), please click the second button.

Storytelling Starters ~ A new note

November 10th, 2018

My new venture is singing lessons. It’s going well. My singing teacher, Bianca, is tall, Australian, young, good-looking and full of spirit. At least half of every lesson so far has concentrated on the production of voice, diaphragm and larynx, position of head and tongue, the focusing of sound and other such matters.

How strange, I’ve been thinking, that as someone who has worked as a storyteller for three decades – or is it four? – I have never had voice lessons before. A number of voice workshops, perhaps, but not anything continued and concentrated. In my work, I suppose I felt confident that my voice could reach the back of pretty much any audience. I remember being asked to tell a story to 800 pupils in a black school in South Africa. The 800 pupils were seated outside (always more difficult and certainly not very personal) but it went off OK. Big halls at such events as Festival at the Edge also seem to have gone alright. Awful acoustics, surrounding noise: all kinds of obstacles have occurred and there’s been the occasional failure. For instance, I remember one person coming to me after a story I’d told to a crowd of other storytellers standing around me at some festival or other. She was bothered. She hadn’t heard the last word of the story. That felt unforgiveably awful! Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ From acorn to oak tree

November 3rd, 2018

Yesterday morning, I did a story session for 12 children and their teachers from two North Lambeth schools. The event was organised by ADD (Action Aid for Disability) which is a charity I support. The children had been chosen for their artistic ability. What they did in the session yesterday was designed to  contribute to a book.

How things grow! It reminds me of a favourite riddle of mine. The question asks: What’s the definition of an acorn? And the answer? An oak tree in a nutshell.

The story begins:

I remember that the first personal contribution I made to the work of ADD came after a visit I made to their offices when I was shown an inspirational video in which a man called Peter Ogik (I’ve mentioned him before in this blog) talked about his life. Peter was born with albinism. Growing up in Uganda, his life had been very hard. In Uganda, people with albinism are harassed, cursed and sometimes killed. But Peter’s father had always inspired him to be brave. He’d always told him  he was ‘special’. Read the rest of this entry »

New encounters

October 27th, 2018

After the ceaseless activity of our week in Toronto, we are now coming to the end of my birthday week in the quieter surroundings of Lakefield. The Autumn colours have been gorgeous, a beautifully patterned snake soaked up the last of the sunshine on one of the trails we walked. But these last days have been greatly shadowed by news from New Zealand of the massive stroke that has been suffered by one of our dearest friends. We await more news. The distance from here to there feels immense. 

Storytelling has figured during this last week in an unexpected new way. Wherever I’ve come into contact with First Nation people – in their communities, centres, shops or books – I’ve been struck by the indications of the importance to them of storytelling. Their stories are a central part of their current efforts to gain proper respect for their rights and their culture. Read the rest of this entry »

Checking in

October 20th, 2018

Greetings from Toronto! More next week when I hope to show some fine photos.

Storytelling Starters ~ Fallen leaves

October 13th, 2018

The leaves of the lime tree are falling. They pile up over the back of the garden. They’re a pain. Leaves on the street make lovely patterns of shape and colour. It’s a treat to look down at them as I pass. I’m hoping we’ll see more leaves in Canada. (We’re off there tomorrow.) Or will the Canadian leaves have fallen already, overwhelmed by the onset of winter?

Meantime, Autumn leaves in London have created an earworm in my head. It’s the first couple of lines of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ beautiful poem (see it all at the end of the blog):

Margaret are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving

Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Journey of a story

October 6th, 2018

This week’s blog aims to tell the story of a story. Or should I say, one of the stories of what must be by now a very old story in which it has acquired countless new stories of how it’s travelled through our world. Mine is only one of them.

The story begins:

Innumerable years ago, the Snohomish people of North-West America would tell the story of pushing up the sky. In the beginning, they’d say, the sky was too low. People were unhappy with it. They felt oppressed. They felt there was insufficient space to do things, create things, scarcely enough room to breathe. Besides, sometimes there’d be someone who would go missing by getting lost in the sky – a boy climbing a tree, maybe, or someone exploring a hill. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Where Corals Lie

September 29th, 2018

Years ago in a project at the Commonwealth Institute as then was, the wonderful Kathie Prince was the musician, I was the storyteller. It was a brilliant time and, for me, one of its most enriching aspects was how much I learned from Kathie. For instance, I learned the involvement with audiences of varying age that can be brought about through little songs where the audience can help create new verses by offering fresh ideas t0 fit in the pattern. Or where involvement is deepened through the use of differently fascinating instruments. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Voices

September 22nd, 2018

What follows are three incidents, each in its own way quite small, yet each in its own way quite magical, which have been part of my experience this last week.

A brilliant childminder:

Lilian, the childminder who lives in the next street from us, is always brightly engaged and active with the children she looks after. On Thursday, we passed each other on the street as I walked to one of our local shops. With her were two small children barely past toddler age. Each had a bag in his or her hand and both were looking carefully at the ground.

‘We’re going on a leaf hunt,’ says Lilian. Both children raised their bags for me to see what was in them.

It’s not the hugest deal in the world. But considering that ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’ is something most young children get to know, calling it a leaf hunt has a particular ring to it. And what a good way of enabling children to become aware of the nature that is around them even in a city. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Remembering

September 15th, 2018

Storytellers know that our personal stories are part of our bedrock as individuals. Not everyone we encounter may recognise it, but we all have them. One of the times they’re most in evidence is at funerals.  Here is where they are shared – stories of our personal connection with the one who has died, stories about that person one has heard and remembered, stories which that person used to tell and, of course, stories of particular incidents involving that person of which one was part.

A funeral to remember:

Yesterday was a time for listening and for telling. The funeral of our much-loved and hugely admired Kenneth Bowen was held in St David’s Cathedral where one of his sons had been organist for some years. The burial was in Fishguard at the burial ground of Hermon Baptist Chapel where, as he’d always said he wanted, he could be buried next to his mother who had died when he was aged just seven. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Such different things

September 8th, 2018

Two such different items for this week’s blog. One refers to an interview I did for Early Years TV. The other is about an important friend who died last Saturday and some of the reasons why the loss of him is so hard.

The interview:

The interview was with Kathy Brodie who runs Early Years TV. It happened earlier this year after my book, Storytelling and Story-Reading in Early Years, was published. I’ve always found it incredibly hard to look at myself on screen on any of the occasions when such a possibility has come up. But if you’d like to see the interview, what you can do is search here and from the interview options that come up, select the one with me.

The singer and friend:

Kenneth Bowen had a wonderful high tenor voice and also a great sense of humour. In his world-renowned career as a singer, he collected infinite numbers of stories of other singers, conductors and special occasions which it was always a treat to hear. But there were so many other things about him that make losing him feel so sad.

One of those is the personal connection which explains how Paul and I came to know him. Kenneth had strong connections with Fishguard, the small Pembrokeshire town where I was born. He was born in Llanelli but spent many summers in Fishguard with aunts and grandparents and his mother is buried there. So he’d go back there to visit from time to time. On one such occasion he went to see my redoubtable Aunty Mali not only because he knew her but because she was wanting to sell a piano which, in fact, Kenneth then bought for his son, now the organist of Hereford Cathedral. Read the rest of this entry »