Sep 25, 2013

Life-long story telling

I've just spend a wonderful few days with family, celebrating my father's 72nd birthday. At the heart of the celebration were my two "nieces", five and eight years old. (They're not exactly blood relatives, but our families have been celebrating birthdays together since their Mum and I were younger than they are now, so they qualify. Also, I've changed nappies and given baths and supervised homework, so I figure I've earned the "Aunty" designation.)

I was conscious of the fact that the whole weekend was full of storytelling. Our family doesn't get together terribly often, as we're geographically spread around, so there's lots of the "what's been going on" kind of stories that needed to be told. Then, like many dads, there's nothing my father likes than a long, drawn-out joke with a terrible pun as the punchline. There were also bedtime stories to read (I'd forgotten how wonderful and twisty that Doctor Seuss prose is.) And there were plenty of kids' stories too, often starting with a breathless, "Guess what?"

One of the new artworks destined for my refrigerator...
I asked my eight-year-old niece to write me a story because I was interested to see what sort of thing she might come up with. (Okay, so it might also have also been motivated by the need to keep her occupied while we prepared a birthday dinner for 12...)

She wrote me the most wonderful adventure tale. It was about Emily, a (nice) monster who lived in a cave by a river and who was out one day playing with a ball with her brother, Jack. But then the ball accidentally fell in the river! Jack went in after it, even though Emily told him not to and then, oh no, he started to get swept away! But Emily thought quickly and found a rope and threw it to Jack so he was able to climb out. And everyone chorused, "Hooray!" (She didn't know how to spell "chorused" but she gave it a good try.)

I know everyone thinks their own child (or nephew/niece/cousin/etc) is the smartest, most brilliant child in the world. But seriously, my author's little writing heart glowed and thumped as we read her story aloud. A gusty female protagonist! A hero's journey! A satisfying, happy ending! Awesome word use and vocabulary!

I'm going to start training her now to see if I can turn her into an author.

Reading her story got my mother telling another story. About the time when I was a similar age and I wrote a story on the back of a cardboard box at my parents' shop. They were part of a franchise and I wrote a story about how it had been founded -- a fantastical tale about pirates and deserted islands, apparently. And the head of the franchise visited their store and he saw it, and he told them he was going to see how it could be used as part of their advertising campaign. Which never happened. But still -- perhaps it was a foreshadowing of my future double life in PR and romance writing??

My favourite bedtime story over the weekend was Dr Seuss's "Yurtle the Turtle" -- so much fun to read out loud. Do you have a favourite you like to read to the littlies in your life?


  1. Hey Emmie - what a great little story-teller in the making! Was she also the drawer of the picture?
    Dr Seuss was always at the top of my list when I used to read to my kids and there were others that they really loved that I read them over and over. I swear to this day I could probably still recite the words of Tim the Truck Driver.
    But my favourite was Room on the Broom. The Illustrations were divine and the prose was rhyming and wonderfully so! The rhythm and cadence was fabulous!

  2. Hi Emmie

    What a wonderful post when my children were young I loved to read Possum Magic to them and I have often read this one to my grandchildren they love it also and my youngest grandson loves all the Peppa Pig books so much so that he reads them to me know and he is only 2 1/2 lol

    Have Fun

  3. Thanks Amy! Yes, story teller and artist are one and the same. Funny you should mention Room on the Broom -- the little one won the Book Week dress up this year as the witch!

  4. Thanks Helen -- Poosum Magic is a classic! I'm not sure if these two have it -- I'll have to check now!

  5. Hi Emmie,

    It's fantastic what stories children come up with and such a shame that often that's not nurtured. 'Hairy McLary' used to be a big favourite here and I also have fond memories of reading CS Lewis's 'The Magician's Nephew' in instalments to the children along with the first Harry Potter stories. We discovered reading aloud is a joy in itself and used to take turns.

  6. Agreed Annie! Hairy McLary is another good choice!

  7. Lovely post, Emmie! We never really got into Dr Seuss, but I always told my boys bedtime stories, from picture books as tiny babies to Harry Potter 5- which was fun. We all loved sharing stories so much that even when the boys were almost hitting teens we went from me reading to an audio tape (Harry Potter 6 and 7) so it didn't seem too childish for them. My personal fave was Where The Wild Things Are.

  8. My "littlie" is 11, but we still read together every night. We're working our working through Jackie French's books atm (currently her YA historicals and Animal series) and also Deltora Quest 2 (Emily Rodda)

  9. Lovely post, Emmie! It does sound like you've got a budding writer in your midst!

    Aren't Dr Seuss books fabulous! Just love the way the words want to roll off the tongue. I love the Hairy Maclary stories for the same reason.

  10. Emmie, what a great birthday party!

    I love Hairy McLary and Jack Russell Dog Detective. They're both such fun, and both series are about dogs. :)