Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Star Apple’

Storytelling Starters ~ Taking a risk

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

apple-star[1]I took a bit of a risk on Thursday evening. We were giving the second in our Enchantment series of Songs and Stories concerts at Pepper’s in Fishguard. This was Winter Enchantment. During the second half, I was going to do two readings – one from A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas, the second the hilarious Twelve Thank-You Notes of Christmas, originally written by I’ve no idea who.

But in the first half, I’d decided to tell three short stories. The third was Baboushka, the poignant story of Russia’s Mother Christmas. (Put Baboushka into the Search box on the left of this blog; you’ll come up with my posting for December 17, 2011).  The second story was The Pointing Finger which I recounted here a few weeks ago on November 5, 2016.  The first was the story I call Star Apple.

Star Apple was a risk because I think of it as a story for children. But this was an audience of adults. Granted, I’ve told it at this time of the year to any number of teachers’ or parents’ workshops. ‘It’s a great story to tell to children,’ I say. ‘It’s easy to remember. It has the great advantage that it needs a prop (always a help because it gives you something to focus on). Besides it is about a star – and that is very seasonal as we think about Christmas.’

Why I decided to take a risk on it at Winter Enchantment is that the story is simple and magical and I thought some of my audience might be inspired to retell it at family gatherings over Christmas. Why not be ready with a story to entertain whoever is present? (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ The Star Inside

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Once again, it’s the time of year to tell the Star Apple story. It’s one of those stories that can be infinitely adapted to suit your audience. I love it. I also love hearing (as I did on the recent occasion when I got that Lifetime Achievement Award) that one storyteller who’d come across the story on this Blog then told it with great effect to an audience and absolutely loved the response. My great thanks to Sal Tonge who first told it to me.

Star Apple

A little child (make it a boy or a girl) is always saying, ‘I’m bored’. The child’s mother has plenty of answers – ‘tidy your bedroom’, ‘do your homework’ or ‘go and play with your toys’ – but the child keeps coming back with the same complaint. Then one day (probably sometime about now!) the mother says, ‘Well, why not go and find a little green house with a chimney on top and a star inside.’

The child is suitably mystified. He or she goes and searches the toy box. There’s nothing that fits the description.

Then the child goes out to the street. Up and down the street he or she goes, peering at all the houses one by one in case one has turned green, gained a chimney and developed a star inside. No luck.

At that point, the child goes to call on Granny who lives next door. ‘Gran,’ says the child. ‘You know Mum?’ ‘Yes,’ says Gran in that strange way that adults do. ‘Well,’ says the child. ‘Mum’s gone made. She said I’ve got to find a little green house with a chimney on top and a star inside. And there isn’t one.’

‘Well,’ said Granny. ‘Have you looked really hard?’ ‘Yes,’ says the child. ‘And there isn’t one.’

Then Granny says, ‘Well, Let’s go in the kitchen and we’ll have a look there.’

In the kitchen, Granny takes a green apple out of the fruit bowl and says, ‘See, here’s a little green house. And look,’ she says, wiggling the stem, ’it has a chimney on top.’

‘But it’s supposed to have a star inside,’ says the child. ‘Well, let’s have a look,’ says Granny.

So Gran picks up her knife (be careful, don’t leave the knife hanging around).

And when she cuts the apple in half (and when you do it, don’t cut downwards but across the middle), she reveals the star inside.

Try it and see. Any children you know will be amazed and delighted. In my experience, so will the adults.  And that’s the end of the story except, of course, you could now cut up the apple and share it around.

Happy Christmas! Enjoy the magic. Enjoy the stars. And enjoy the prospect of a whole new year ahead.

P.S. I’ll be taking a holiday from my Blog over the next couple of weeks except perhaps for putting up a picture or two. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ To inspire

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

The essential point of any storytelling workshop or course is to inspire and impart – not to disempower. Participants can be enthused in different ways and with diverse outcomes. They may become tellers of stories in their family lives. They may start telling, making and hearing stories with people they work with. They may even conceive the ambition to develop themselves as professional or semi-professional storytellers.

Palpable excitement

On Wednesday and Thursday this week, I felt particularly conscious of this multi-faceted effect. On Wednesday, I was at Warwick University doing one of my annual sessions with students on Hilary Minns’ storytelling module for people working with children. Thursday was the final session of my Kensington Palace course for parents. Both times, I felt the palpable excitement of people who have already started to experience the effects of their storytelling on children. And not only children. One Kensington Palace mother read us a story she’d written during the week. Beautifully written it was too. During the course, she told us, she felt she’d discovered a new facility for writing. She reported how affected her husband had been by this.

New skills, new confidence, new powers of invention: the KensingtonPalace crowd will, I feel sure, go on to great things. Already they are well into planning storytelling clubs for the children in the schools their children attend. I have offered my help in getting these going.

As for the Warwick University students, they’ll soon be planning and writing their end-of-course dissertations. In doing this, they will be using and recording their own new awareness of the effects of stories on children.

Leading workshops – a particular skill

But it’s an important point to make: leading workshops in such a way as to produce these effects is a particular skill of its own. I know I’m good at it (I should be by now!) and of course I know it’s not the only way of working as a storyteller. (I love the other ways, too.) But it does require a particular set of qualities – knowing how to put participants at their ease; activities that can involve all in the group, including the shyest; a storytelling style that does not show itself off but encourages people to feel they can do it too; a way of working that recognises and develops people’s individual interests, skills and styles. And last but not least, a love of employing and sharing the ‘secrets’ of the storytelling art.

The need today

It’s a tall order. And it represents one of my current concerns about what’s happening with storytelling in education today. Right now, we badly need more storytellers who want to foster this way of working so there can be more parents, more teachers and more childcare workers spreading the joys and wisdoms of storytelling. Is enough happening to fund this kind of development? Are enough people aware of the need? What happens if and when this kind of workshop-running dies out? (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Wintering Out 3

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Two more Seasonal Tales today – seasonal because of the star in the Christmas story and because I always think stars look especially wonderful at this dark time of the year. Today’s Seasonal Tales are two different versions of the Star Apple story.

The Star Apple Story ~ what you need

The Star Apple Story is a great one for telling at a family event or in school. All you need as props are an apple and a knife to cut it. As long as you adapt the story appropriately, the apple can be red or green as you choose and in the version of the story that appears first below (I posted it in this Blog last year, but it’s worth repeating) the apple should also have a good strong bit of stem.

Star Apple ~ Version 1

Once there was a little boy who was very excited in the days before Christmas. Was it going to snow? Would Father Christmas come to his house? What would Father Christmas bring him?

The little boy was so excited, he didn’t know what to do. ‘What shall I do?’ he kept asking. The Christmas decorations were already up. His old toys bored him and  he’d tidied his room as his mother had suggested. ‘What shall I do?’ he asked again.

That’s when his mother said something weird. ‘Why don’t you look round the house and the garden and see if you can find a little green house with no windows but a chimney on top and a star inside?’

‘UH?’ The little boy was mystified. He looked round the house. He looked round the garden. Nowhere at all could he find a little green house with no windows but a chimney on top, and a star inside. ‘Mum,’ the boy said, ‘I can’t find it.’

Then his mother suggested he call on his friend next door: the two of them together could go down the street and see if they could find it. So that’s what the little boy did. He and his friend looked at all the houses. They could see some that had stars inside on top of their Christmas trees and some of the houses had chimneys. But none of the houses had no windows and none of them were green.

The little boy went back to his own house.‘Mum,’ he said, ‘we didn’t find it.’

‘Well, let me show you,’ said his mother, reaching a little green apple out of the fruit bowl.

‘See,’ she said. ‘here’s a little green house. And look,’ she said, wiggling the stalk on the top, ‘this little green house has a chimney. But it hasn’t got any windows, has it?’

‘No,’ said the boys. ‘And where’s the star?’

‘Just watch,’ the little boy’s mother replied as she picked up a knife and cut the apple cross-wise across the middle. When she opened it up, the little boy and his friend could see that it had a beautiful star inside.

‘And now,’ said the mother, ‘you can eat the apple, half each.’

‘And can we do the story again every day until Christmas?’

‘Yes,’ said the mother, ‘we can. And tonight when it’s dark we’ll go out on the street and see if we can see the stars in the sky.’’ (more…)

Storytelling Starters – In the Spirit of Christmas 2

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Stars are the focus of this week’s blog – not the celebrity sort but the ones in the  sky. They are especially worthy of attention at this time of the year. The bright star in the East plays a vital part in the story of Jesus for those with Christian beliefs. And for all those who bother to look up in the sky on clear nights, I’m sure you’ll agree the stars look especially bright in contrast with December’s darkness. The longer I look up at them, the more they seem to draw me upwards into the sky to join them. They expand my sense of time and space.

Star Apple

The Star in the Apple is a much-told tale. I first heard it from my storyteller friend, Sally Tonge, and I loved it. You may know it already. It gets told and written in all kinds of ways with all kinds of different details. Just look it up on the Internet and you’ll see some significantly differing versions. But what I love most is that everyone’s version depends on the same central fact – so amazing to children and adults who never knew it before – that if you cut an apple across the middle, you’ll find it has a star inside. (more…)