Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters: The link

Some books sell thousands,  millions, of copies. If you’re the author, it must be wonderful to experience such success. But to me right now, it feels like it’s the personal links that are the most wonderful thing.

My story from yesterday:

In yesterday’s post arrived an envelope containing two hand-written postcards and a photograph. The photo was of two boys, Ethan and Isaac, standing in front of a gravestone. The two boys had written one each of the cards, the writing in both cases carefully done along pencil lines ruled onto the cards.

The boys were writing to tell me how much they’d enjoyed the stories in a book by the name of  Shemi’s Tall Tales which I’d published a few years ago. The stories in the book were all ones originally told by an old North Pembrokeshire character known as Shemi Wâd. All of them are very daft and marvellous tales and in my experience of telling them in schools, they are especially loved by boys.

Two boys and a grandfather: 

Back to the two boys who wrote to me yesterday. Actually, I’d already heard from a close Pembrokeshire friend that these particular boys, grandsons of a former teacher in the area whom we both know well, had been loving Shemi’s stories. Their grandfather, my friend had told me, had not only been telling them the stories. He’d also been taking them to the local places that figure in the tales.

And now here these boys were, each telling me which of Shemi’s stories he’d loved the best (The Enormous Cabbage in one case,  in the other A Gruesome Tale the story of a dog who gets cut in two) and, for the photograph, there they are, both standing in front of Shemi’s grave. For of course Shemi was an actual man and, yes, his grave can still be visited.

The personal link:

What’s so wonderful about this story – and not surprisingly, it reduced me to happy tears – is far, far less to do with me than with the grandfather of these two boys. It’s he who has bothered to introduce the Shemi stories to these boys, he who has made them come to life for them, he who has bothered to get my address so they can send me the cards they have written to me.

Why I’m saying all this – and it’s happened before in my storytelling life but never quite so fully or with such personal connection –  is to make the point that it’s the personal engagement between adult and child that can really make stories come alive for the child. Whether the stories are orally told or read, how hugely that is to be valued! I don’t think it’s something the two boys whose messages I received yesterday will ever wholly forget. With luck, they’ll do something similar for whatever children there may be in their lives in the future. It’s that personal link that makes all the difference.

PS: Shemi as drawn and painted by a schoolboy in a Pembrokeshire school.

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