Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ In the Deep of the Night

Why is it that the stars in the sky especially draw our attention in winter? In the deep darkness of this part of the year, they seem to shine all the brighter.

As well as playing a prominent part in the story of the birth of Jesus, stars are present in so many of our Christmas traditions – at the top of the Christmas tree, in street decorations, on Christmas cards. For me, they are a vital theme in stories for this time of the year.

Stars are about the magic of looking up into the sky and feeling an immensity that’s beyond our imagining. Yet our imaginations lengthen and widen in the very act of looking.

Loawnu Mends the Sky: a Chinese story

One star story I love telling to children is about how the stars first got into the sky. I came to know it in a beautifully written version which was sent to me by Vivienne Corringham for possible inclusion in my collection of stories, Time For Telling.

Time For Telling came out in 1991. It proved very popular and  ‘Loawnu Mends The Sky’  deserved its place there.  It’s very well worth looking up. If you can’t find Time For Telling, (it’s out of print but is still held by many libraries), you might be able to track down the two paperback volumes into which it was later divided. Loawnu Mends The Sky’ is included in the volume entitled, The Big-Wide-Mouthed Toad-Frog. What follows is my summary of it – but it’s really not difficult to imagine how to fill it out for a full telling.

‘Loawnu Mends The Sky’: a summary

One day when the world was new and some aspects of it were not yet quite right, pieces of sky began falling down. They left big holes behind them.

The children were very worried and rushed off to tell the local wise woman, Loawnu. They asked her what they should do.

Lowanu suggested they collect up all the pieces of sky that had fallen down. Then, she said, she would try to mend it.

So the children set off to do their gathering and when they’d finished, Loawnu counted the pieces of sky that they’d found. Then she counted the holes in the sky. Sadly, it soon became obvious that some pieces of sky were still missing. ‘Will that matter?’ the children asked.

Loawnu replied that, somehow or other, the holes would have to be filled. First she said she’d use coloured stones to fill the gaps. But the children didn’t think much of that idea. They wanted to have the sky just as it had been before – all blue.

Loawnu thought of another idea. She didn’t explain what it was but promised the children that when they woke up the next morning, the sky would be mended and it would be blue the same as before.

That night, Loawnu made a tall ladder and mended the sky.

Next morning, the children were astonished. The sky was blue with no holes. How had Loawnu done it? Loawnu smiled and wouldn’t tell them. But that night, when one little girl looked up at the sky, she discovered the answer. When she told the other children, they all looked up as well. And what they saw were STARS – silver, shining stars. Loawnu had put one star in each hole.

So in the daytime, the sky was just as she’d promised – blue as it had been before. But now each night it looked very different. It looked beautiful.

In Vivienne Corringham’s words: ‘Nobody had ever seen stars before, and so they stood and watched them twinkling and glittering. Some people stayed there all night, and the more they watched, the more they liked them. Everybody agreed the night seemed friendlier now that there were stars.’

P.S. The stars in my photos this week are a few of many beautiful stars that have been painted by children I’ve worked with.

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