Story Maps and Spirals: Retelling

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During my last storytelling session at a local school, teachers were keen for me to show the students the maps I draw to help me retell a story.

These are working documents. The first map is for a Palestinian story. Like many folk tales, the protagonist leaves home on a quest. They solve their problem and return home with new understanding, having learned from their experience.

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In more complicated stories, I find drawing spiral maps helpful. This story map is about the break-up of a friendship,

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In retelling, I need the routine to make a stable base for the story. Tone of voice is crucial to set the mood for a good story and for the suspense that will come. When we’re introduced to a character and nothing out of the ordinary happens, then they’re stuck in a same old routine – not much of a story.

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Jack Maguire in his book ‘Creative Storytelling’ said it this way .

“Another fundamental of a good children’s story is that the plot revolves around an element of tension.” (1985:51)

A good story spirals into action, moving from ‘The Way it Was’ to ‘The Way it is Now’

Life can go up or down in half a second. Often a trigger / jolt / problem shifts characters out of their ordinary ways. Then more problems and possibilities arise.

Characters’ actions and speech build the tension either up to a better, satisfactory, resolution or down to an unhappy, unsatisfying one.

The ending must pull everything together.

Sometimes a story spiralling upward is funny. Moving this spiral clearly shows how the teller has been ‘winding up’ the audience, especially when kids don’t get the punch line of the joke, at first. ‘Shaggy Dog’ stories are a classic of this type.

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Source of quote

Jack Maguire. 1985 Creative Storytelling: choosing, inventing and sharing tales for children. New York, McGraw-Hill.

All text (except quote) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is  Copyright © under Australian Law.

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Hydrangea: Cee’s Flower of the Day

A  friend’s woodland garden in NZ has lots of different types of hydrangeas.

Where did they originate? Here’s a potted history.

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Blue lace-cap variety

Of the 75 species in the genus, most hydrangeas grow naturally in Asian countries like Japan, China, Korea, while there are several species native to the US.

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A mop-cap variety

In 1730, North American farmer and plant hunter, John Bartram sent hydrangeas to Europe. He, and his son William, later discovered an oak-leaved native species (Hydrangea Quercifolia) in Georgia.

(Not sure about this one)

Back in the 1690’s, Engelbert Kaempfer a German physician and explorer worked for the Dutch East India company in Japan and had discovered mop-head and lace-cap hydrangeas there. Japan, at that time, was closed to trade with the outside world … so it was more than 150 years later that an English botanist Charles Maries was able to take samples of Hydrangea Macrophylla and Hydrangea Serrate to Europe.

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Many modern varieties have been bred and propagated for their gorgeous colours and size.

Sources of info.

Plants of Japan in Illustrated Books and Prints To be Featured in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library At The New York Botanical Garden October 20, 2007–January 13, 2008

Glyn Church, Hydrangea expert interviewed by BUCKWELL, Carol, “Hello Again, Hydrangeas” in New Zealand Gardener, Auckland, Nov 2017.

See Also

CHURCH, Glyn. Hydrangeas. 2001.

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law.

 

Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge: Strange Fruit

I’ve been wondering what to post since the WPC Weekly Photo Challenge ended in May. So, I’m hoping for inclusion in another (Cee’s) photo challenge. Over this last month I’ve been fascinated by the blossoming of this particular tree … and thinking about fruits and seeds

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Such a glorious velvet red!

Telling a story is like sowing a seed – you always hope you see it become a beautiful tree, with firm roots and branches that soar up. But it is a peculiar sowing, for you will never know whether your seed sprouts or dies.” Michael Montoure in his book ‘Slices.’

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These odd little balls are fruits/seed cases clamouring to be attractive to birds so they can be dispersed far from the tree. Perhaps someone knows what kind of tree this is?

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A change in colour after rain

Seeds are powerhouses in stories as in life.  They can be magical and send you to sleep like Titania in Midsummer Night’s Dream or they can provide opportunity, health and wealth.

Now they’re turning brown.

This month I’ve been retelling the Asian folktale Aina-Kizz and the Black-Bearded Bai. I first told it more than twenty years ago. The trickiest part of the retelling is the pivotal liar’s competition, demanded by the Bai ( a local official) when this woodcutter’s daughter outwits him in public and the judge fines him. The first one to call out “That’s a lie!” loses their bet.

[It’s hard work lying consistently. If the reteller misses some details out, the ending won’t work!]

The Bai began by saying that he found 3 ears of wheat in his pocket, one day before he was born. These he threw nonchalantly out of the window. When he next looked out, the crop was so vast his horsemen took ten days to get to the end of it … (and he brags on about his workers, the crop …  goes on more about his power)

The girl in her turn calmly claimed she found one cotton seed.  The bush that grew from it reached the clouds and she picked and cleaned the full bolls herself. She made made enough money at market to buy 40 camels laden with silks … sent her brother off to trade these in Samarkand … (and goes on more about her family)…

Her intelligence triumphs over his brute force.

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All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp Copyright © under Australian Law.

 

A Japanese Twist

This week’s Photo Challenge Twisted didn’t mean much till I found this photo I’d taken in my local Sushi Bar ( I did move the figurine, just a tad.)

The women’s twisted hair and that knotted Obi sparked a rewrite of a traditional folktale I’ve been working on –

Long, long ago in Old Japan there was a young man who loved his old father dearly. Not long after his son’s wedding, the old man died and the young man withdrew into his work as he grieved for his father.

Early one morning, he brought his wife in to show the piles of baskets he had made and said he must go to the  market. She helped him stack them on his back and waved him off on his walk to the nearest town. She felt pleased to see him at last like his old self again. Such fine, strong weaving attracted many buyers so he sold out quickly. and made a good profit. Before returning home, the shy young man had time to wander the stalls.

An array of silver objects caught the light. He had never seen anything like these before. The Gaijin vendor signalled they were delicate and would break if dropped. He nodded as the young man gingerly picked up the nearest. One glance and he was amazed … for there was his father looking at him.

“Oh father!” he muttered, lifting his eyes to the sky, “What are you doing here in the town?” No voice spoke from the clouds. Was this some kind of magic? Looking around him, he wondered why his father had come back to see him.  He quickly bought the object, tucked it safely in his belt and anxiously hurried home.

As soon as he got there, he placed his precious find in the family shrine and said nothing of it to his wife. From that day on, he prayed fervently each dawn and dusk.

Naturally, his young wife noticed how much time he spent praying. One day, after her husband had gone off to gather more bamboo, she looked inside the shrine and gasped. There, she surprised a lovely young woman who looked back at her. She quickly closed the door … only to look again several times through the  day. The woman was always there.

As soon as her husband came home, she turned on him angrily. and pointed to the shrine “How dare you bring home another woman! You worship her! How could you do this to me?”

“What woman?” her husband stammered. “That is my dear departed father in there!” He rushed to to make sure. Yes … there was his father, looking worried. As he stepped back with a sigh of relief, his wife pushed past and grabbed the disc . One triumphant look and she handed it back saying “That is not your father … that is a jealous young woman!” Then she hurried away.

They argued till they were speechless and miserable. After a sleepless night, the young man suggested they talk to the wise nun who lived in the village temple.

One look at the pair and the nun ushered them in.  She listened with a kindly smile while they took turns to tell their part of the story. When tears had been shed and both were finally still, the nun stretched out a hand for the source of their troubles. After she studied its smooth surface, she exclaimed. “Goodness! This woman has repented and become a nun. It’s best that she remain here, for a time, in the temple.” Then she opened a wooden chest beside her, put in their mirror and closed the lid.

It did not take long for the news of the arrival of a wonderful glass to go round the village. The young couple laughed together when they, in their turn, heard the story  from a friendly neighbour. How mistaken they had been! How foolish! How marvellous!

Next morning, they found their furoshiki -swathed mirror on the doorstep and both agreed it should be hung by their door so anyone might look in at it. The tale of the mirror spread to many districts. The young couple gained status as the first family in that village to own one and they were not the last … to see their truth …  in a mirror.

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Twisted

A Japanese Twist©2018Meg Philp

Adapted from ‘The Mirror’ by BANG, Garrett, Men from the Village Deep in the Mountains. New York, Macmillan, 1973: 67- 9.

Some of the sources consulted

Japanese Bamboo weaving 

Japanese Historical Timeline

Japanese Mirrors

Mirror (See History)

Sacred Mirror: Japanese Imperial Regalia

All text  and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and is also Copyright © under Australian Law.

 

 

Mangoes: WPC Growth

In Queensland, luscious mangoes signal our summer holiday season over the New Year. So juicy and delectable, they are best eaten leaning over the kitchen sink!

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A few years ago, my neighbour’s Bowen Mango tree used to produce so many mangoes, she couldn’t give them away … so she had it lopped!

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Whenever I see a mango tree, I remember an Indonesian story retold by storyteller Helen East. My version goes something like this –

One still, summer’s night the moon shone full on a tall, dark mango tree. Cicadas suddenly ceased chirping  and listened. Disgruntled voices were drifting up from the tree’s roots  “After all,” they complained, ” we do all the work and get none of the attention or thanks!”

They muttered on about how hard it was deep down in the dark earth, holding the whole tree fast, while keeping water moving up to the trunk, the branches, those leaves and all that fruit.

“Look at that lazy trunk, just standing there!” they yelled, looking up.

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Hearing this the trunk yelled back “ Not, so! My job is constant strain. Holding all this tree together in wind and storms is much harder. If I break, we all die. You forget too that I carry all the food back and forth to all parts. I’ve also had limbs chopped off for firewood, bark stripped by foraging animals: the pain of it all.”

Then the trunk added “It’s those leaves just hanging there, dancing in the breeze. I wish that was all I had to do!”

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Surrounding branches swayed in disagreement. They thought differently.

“How little you know, “ whispered the leaves in chorus. “ All day long we convert energy from the sun sharing it with the whole tree. We’re up all night releasing air for the tree while it rests. We shelter you all from too much sun. Heavy rains often tear us down.You wouldn’t want to have our job. Look at the fruits, all they do is hang around, grow fat and glow with pride when they’re ripe. There’s the kind of job we’d like!” they sighed.

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The fruits held their tongue at first. They knew it was because of their existence that this tree was valued. Then they indignantly pointed out how badly treated they were, often ripped off before they were ripe or gnawed at by bats and rats.

“We have the worst of all – such a short life. Though prized by humans, many of us can be left to rot at the base. The rest have to give ourselves up to be eaten, pulped, sliced and worse…”

A deep voice broke through the babble.

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“Enough! … I spend a long time waiting for my fruit to ripen,” said the husky stone.

“We fall together. If I am cast aside and land on good earth, we go on. When I dry out, I force my case to split open so the seed can begin to grow into a sapling. I remake all of you from my core when a root descends and a shoot ascends. Trees like us have flourished for thousands of years. We all have our part to do in the growing …”

Just then,  a woman came softly into the garden to look at the moon so the tree fell silent. And the cicadas began their rhythmic nocturne once again.

Growth

Sources – Story adapted from Helen East’s retelling “The Heaviest Burden” in  BRAND, Jill, BLOWS, Wendy & SHORT, Caroline. The Green Umbrella: stories, songs, poems and starting points for environmental assemblies. London, Black, 1991:93.

Mango – Wikiwand article

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law.

 

Serene Sail: Weekly Photo Challenge

On a summer trip to Edinburgh some years back, I went out one day to Cramond, to the park there and followed the River Almond down to the inlet.

All was quiet. Not a soul around, hardly a breeze. There was a scatter of sailing boats at anchor. The tide was out. What caught my eye was a line of swans gliding in.

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I had to get closer and enjoyed watching them sail in.

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… just beautiful and serene.

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As my granny used to say, “You can’t beat Scotland on a sunny day.”

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For more info about Cramond, see the highlighted link for the Wikiwand article. Evidence of human habitation goes back to 8500BC. The Romans built a fort there, hence the name, which comes from Celtic word meaning ‘fort on the river.’

…..

All text and photos (trusty pocket Fuji) by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and is also Copyright © under Australian Law.

Wishful Thinking? Transformation – Weekly Photo Challenge

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This bug reminded me that someone I love has dyed their hair blue. When I had blonde hair, I dyed it red for a change and kept it up for years.

I know this bug isn’t thinking about what’s going on but that blue really does makes it stand out … an easy target.

Transformations happen whether we notice or not. We change. They change. The world changes. It’s also the main driver in stories … no change = no story.

Most fairy tales for children were like parables. They told how youthful, ordinary characters push for change for the better, and are often helped in magical ways, as in Cinderella’s ‘rags to riches’ story. Listeners learn to spot the character’s  human qualities. eg.  powerless – powerful, arrogant – humble,  cowardly – brave, threatening – protective, deceitful – honest, cruel – kind …  all that they might live “happily ever after.” It’s all wishful thinking.

Grown ups put their best foot forward and get on with what needs doing.

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Inspiring young people to grow out of fairy tale notions happens best thru surprise and laughter, perhaps?

Here’s a recent, modern parable which does this, a speech at Uni of Western Australia by Tim Minchin – 9 Life Lessons read aloud by the comedian himself. It makes me laugh every time I hear it.

Transformation

All Photos and Text  by Meg except where indicated.

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law.

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Temporary? Weekly Photo Challenge

What’s not to appreciate? … a sundae special just waiting to be savoured …

 

… the latest plover mother in the place she was reared, sitting on eggs – no matter how often the mower goes by …

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… leaving no imprint behind, but a sense of having seen marvels …  able to revisit anytime, in our imagination. High days and holidays!IMG_4133 (1)

  1. Huckleberry ice cream.
  2. Masked Lapwing (Plover) nesting on spare Bowling Green.
  3. 14th – 16th Century marble intarsia (inlaid) make up the entire Siena Duomo floor. Covered in sheets to protect them from wear all year, except June 29 – July 31 & Aug 18 – Oct 26, when visitors can see them revealed, from temporary wooden walkways.

Moonstruck was one of my favourite movies. I recall Cosmo, father of the bride- to-be, reacting to the ring Loretta (Cher) was given with her latest marriage proposal. He thought it looked stupid because it was a man’s pinky ring.

She replied “It’s temporary.” At which he exclaimed, “Everything is temporary!  That don’t excuse nothin’.”

And for a story to make you think more about Temporary, you can’t go past It could Always Be Worse retold by Margo Zemach available for you to read as part of Teaching Children Philosophy, thanks to this Creative Commons Licence,

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All text and photos by Meg. Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law. Please request permission to copy photos.

 

Lived-in Layers: Weekly Photo Challenge


Many of the two-storied, terraced houses in Sydney have a small frontage. From their front door they go long and deep.

Come in the back door and you can see all the way through the house – the studio, to the laundry, kitchen, sitting-room, along the hallway to the open front door.

The house is full of stories of the people and pets who have lived here or visited, as well as the builders and renovators who came and went – all that living and dreaming in layers of colour in stone, iron, tile and timber. 

Layered

…….

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law. Please request permission to copy photos

This Time Last Year: Hokey Cokey

This time last year I was standing in my good friend’s kitchen, wondering about the Hokey Cokey.

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This singing game was often the highlight of dances when I was a kid. It was the time we could join with the adults and go silly in a big circle – doing all the actions and singing loudly.

The best part, though, was always the last verse when we all charged back and forth into the centre, arms waving down and up and laughing. It begins –

You put your whole self in,

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You put your whole self out.

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You put your whole self in

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 And you shake it all about.

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You do the the Hokey Cokey

 

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And you turn around.

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That’s what its all about – See!

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Then there’s the loud chorus of –

Oh! Hokey Cokey Cokey! Oh! Hokey Cokey Cokey! Oh! Hokey Cokey Cokey! That’s what its all about!

I’ll leave you to fill in your own images. Photos I’ve included here are

No. 2. Dun Telve, 2.000 year old Broch near Glenelg. 3. Barra Beach in the rain. 4. (Someone else’s) Lunch before flying out of Barra Airport. 5. Kippers & smoked fish in Morrison’s supermarket. 6. 15th C. painted ceiling in Morrison’s house, part of John Knox’s House, Edinburgh. 7. Staircase in Duart Castle, Mull: Seat of the Clan McLean. 7. Helix Park, Falkirk.

Click this link for more on this singing game

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This blog of images and text – Story Twigs the Imagination! – is Copyright © under Australian Law. Please request permission to copy any photos.