Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Malorie Blackman’

Storytelling Starters ~ School’s back

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Life moves on. School is back and this week I’ve been getting ready for a storytelling day this next Monday at Craig Yr Hesg Primary School in Pontypridd. As well as actually doing the preparing, I’ve been thinking about what the process of preparing means to me. All working storytellers have their own approach. But this is what it’s like for me.

Mind-mapping ~

At Craig Yr Hesg, it will be stories from Wales I’ll be telling. I’ve made my usual mind-map in the style of Edward de Bono  and along its branches I’ve noted some of the possible approaches and stories that are coming into my mind as possibilities. A lot of my sense of this arises from having had a chat on the phone the other day with the person responsible for organising Monday, in this case the headmistress. Emails are all very well. But it’s a personal chat about the arrangements – when and how to get there, the programme of sessions, content of sessions, the children, the approach – that gives me that crucial and immediate sense of the school which, personally, I couldn’t manage without.

Mind-mapping ~ possible stories

So the mind-map is where I’ve marked down my thoughts about what I’m going to do on the day. They’re suggestions to myself rather than fixed expectations since, on this kind of occasion, I’m well aware, I have absolutely no need or desire to decide in advance exactly what I’m going to do. I remember learning that lesson – that it’s perfectly possible to decide on the moment – one day early on in my storytelling career.  I was on a train to the school whose headmaster was at that time Chris Brown who for so many years has given his free time to being Reviews Editor of The School Librarian. As I agonised about about which of two stories I was going to tell to Chris’s own class, it suddenly dawned upon me that, if I knew both stories well enough to be able to tell either of them, I didn’t need to decide in advance. It was an exhilarating moment of liberation!

With Classes 3 and 4 at Craig Yr Hesg (that’s the Junior end of the school), my expectation is that I’ll focus on my Shemi stories. These stories were originally created and told by the remarkable Shemi Wâd, a North Pembrokeshire storyteller from the 19th century. I retold them in my book, Shemi’s Tall Tales. Apparently Classes 3 and 4 are boy-dominated and very lively. Experience tell me they will love Shemi. He’s Welsh. He’s eccentric. He’s brilliantly funny. Besides, Class 3’s theme as term begins is Flight, so I expect they’re going to love hearing how Shemi got flown across to Ireland by seagulls and shot back to Wales from a cannon. Besides the theme allows me to talk a bit about storytellers and to explore with the children the idea that we all have stories. Some of us get told them, some of us don’t, but we all have them inside us and in the world around us. (more…)