Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Twenty Tellable Tales’

Storytelling Starters ~ Magic eyes

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

P1000058Cast up onto the pebbles this week on one of my Pembrokeshire beaches were lots and lots of dead crabs – big ones, small ones, ferocious-looking ones, ones that made me go Oooh. I took quite a few photos with my new camera, bought because the zoom on the old one had broken, and the sight of the crabs through the camera lens reminded me of a story I’ve always loved telling to Primary-age children. I first came across it many years ago in Twenty Tellable Tales by the excellent American storyteller, Margaret Read MacDonald. In this collection, the stories are set out almost like poems making it easy to see those chant-like parts that are often repeated and where an audience can join in.

It’s the removable eyes in this story that got me. Children also love them, especially when you make spectacle eyes with your hands, moving them out in front of you and then back again as you do crab’s magic chant. Such eyes, Margaret Read MacDonald points out in her notes on the story, are usually associated with Native American Indian culture. However, it’s from South America that this tale appears to have come. Here it is more or less as I tell it except that this is in shortened form. The elaborations and exaggerations I leave to you.  (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Tellable tales

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

It’s great to come across a new collection of extremely tellable tales. Girls, Goddesses and Giants by Lari Don (A & C Black) has just this week come into my hands as one of a lovely pile of books I’ve been sent to review for School Librarian magazine. Chris Brown, the magazine’s long-term Books Editor, is just about to retire from that position. He’s done a marvellous job over all of the years. I shall miss him. He always seems to know what books I will value receiving.

Girls, Goddesses & Giants addresses a continuingly important need in stories, namely for strong girl heroines. When I was growing up, I always identified with the young men who were the usual fare in the hero department. Heroines were in shorter supply. Whenever a brave prince was rescuing a kidnapped princess doomed to be sacrificed to a voracious dragon, I became the sword-wielding prince as well as the princess.

Lari Don is not only an author. She’s a practising storyteller too. She has felt the same strong need. And as she says in notes at the back of her book (these include helpful hints on adapting stories to suit your own style), she has felt compelled to satisfy it even while actually being in the middle of telling to an audience of children. The 12 stories in her collection come from all over the world. One of my favourites is a Cameroonian tale, Mbango and the Whirlpool. It brought back to my mind Philip Pullman’s point, made in the interview I quoted a week or two back, that a main reason why children love folktales and fairytales is their belief in justice. They want to see fair play being done. (more…)