Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘The River that Went to the Sky’

Storytelling Starters ~ Double wow!

Saturday, October 17th, 2015


When coincidences happen, they often come as pleasing surprises. ‘How amazing is that!’ But coincidence itself is far from being unusual in stories. Indeed, it’s extremely common, a key element in what makes a story into a story. Whether it’s a traditional tale or a personal one, coincidence creates a sense of purpose,  a feeling of something meant. Thus when three brothers in an African story go off to explore the world, each goes in a different direction. But when all three eventually decide to go home, what happens? Completely without any plan to do so, they happen to meet at a crossroads and it’s as a result of their apparently accidental meeting that their story takes shape and develops its point.

I love coincidences. I look out for them. (I think storytellers may be prone to them!) So how about this for a good one? Actually, it’s a two-part coincidence – what you might call a double wow!

Last Friday, I was about to set out for Castell Henllys, the iron-age fort in North Pembrokeshire where I’d done a training day back in the summer. The event this time was to be an Author Tea and in my bag were copies of each of the various books I’ve either written or compiled. Just as I was about to leave the house, the telephone rang. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Return to sender

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

You give a person a present. The person later  dies and in the process of sorting that follows, the present you gave is offered back to you because it had come from you in the first place. This has happened to me more than once. It happened again this week. What came back on this occasion brought enormous delight for several different reasons, primarily that some of the books involved can now become presents all over again. Among the bounty were the following:

Time for Telling1 copy of Time for Telling (the book of children’s stories from around the world that I compiled and edited back in 1990)

1 copy of The River That Went To The Sky (the book of African stories I compiled and edited in 1995) 

I copy of By Word of Mouth, the 43-page booklet on storytelling which accompanied the four-part TV series of the same name I devised for Channel 4 in 1990

There were other things too in the pile. But these three meant a great deal to me.

Time for Telling:

Time for Telling had proved hugely popular when it was published and is evidently still being much used today both here and in other countries. (I know this from the twice-yearly records I receive from ALCS of photocopies people have made from it.) I myself ran out of copies of it quite a while ago for it’s not been in print for some time either in its original hard-back form or in the two paperback versions it afterwards became, The King With Dirty Feet and The Big-Wide-Mouthed Toad-Frog. Now I’ll be able to give the hardback copy that’s been so thoughtfully returned to me as a gift to one of the precious young children who have since come into my life.

The wonderful thing about Time for Telling is that the stories it contains came from working storytellers and were specially written down for the collection by them. Telling these stories, they had made them their own. Pomme Clayton, Duncan Williamson, Patrick Ryan, Amoafi Kwapong, James Riordan, Eric Maddern, Jane Grell, Helen East … what a roll-call of persons who have proved important and influential in the storytelling world. In my own work as a storyteller, I then saw the effect their stories as they had written them down for me were having. Many teachers  I came across were using Time for Telling with their pupils. Indeed, one school I visited had turned their entire October Book Week into a Storytelling Week in which children explored how to tell stories and then practised performing them to each other, to whole classes and in assemblies. Time for Telling was their starting point.

The River that Went to the Sky: (more…)