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 ~ Out of currency?

December 8th, 2018

 A surprise arrived in the post this week. The message inside said, ‘This is your Christmas card, Mary.’ But what was inside was not a card. It was a book written by one of the people who has most inspired my storytelling life  – Betty Rosen. Her book contains a fine selection of her poems and prose pieces. Its intriguing title is I Have a Threepenny Bit and Some Other Things.

Betty was the wife of Harold Rosen. They both came into my life during the early days of what can now be described with capital letters as The Storytelling Revival. Under the leadership of an excellent local authority English adviser by the name of Alastair West, the Borough of Redbridge had become a pilot authority for the Oracy Project. The Oracy Project was about the development of spoken English across all ages of children in education in the UK. Betty and Harold were often called upon to introduce people to what it was all about not only in Redbridge but up and down the land. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Bringing Hope

December 1st, 2018

You know what it’s like. You’re vaguely expecting something to happen. Then suddenly it arrives and you’re surprised and delighted. In my case, it occurred yesterday morning when onto my doormat fell something a little  larger and heavier than the usual letter – not that many actual letters arrive any more. What comes are bills, oh yes the bills! And also of course endless advertisements for this or that.

What the post brought:

But this was the most delightful little book. It’s entitled Bringing Hope, the story in it was written by myself and, yes, I was expecting it to arrive sometime around now. But when I saw it, what proved an absolute delight was the illustrations, all bursting with colour and texture and all produced by pupils of two schools in South London, Reay and Wyvil Primary Schools. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Visiting, revisiting

November 24th, 2018

During a visit I made to Grace Hallworth this week, she kindly gave me a book of Arab folktales. Even as I glanced through it at that time, my eyes alighted on this clever little tale. (I’ll give it a new title: No-brainer.)

No-brainer:

One morning, two woodcutters on their way into the forest noticed the spoor of a lion on the path. (The spoor, by the way, is the animal’s trace or track.) Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Pointers

November 17th, 2018

Ever noticed how a particular theme can crop up as if from nowhere and make itself felt over a period of your life? How does that theme begin? Where does it come from? What makes it continue? Is there something in our individual minds that is seeking out the kind of meaning the theme can make? Perhaps these are good questions for storytellers to consider.

New friends:

Over the last ten days, Paul and I have been visited by two very lovely, very different young women that we feel we’ve somehow inherited from their parents. One is one of the twin daughters of two Kenyan friends I made when I was 18 years old and in Kenya to do Voluntary Service Overseas. By now, both of the parents have died. But somehow – and it feels quite wonderful that this is so – the friendship is being renewed and continued by the children of those two friends, and not only on visits that one or other of them has needed to make to the UK but also by email and Facebook. Sadness and regret at the loss of the parents is thus transformed into something new. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »