Charlie’s story notes

Here, you’ll find some brief background notes about my own stories. The notes are really intended for grown ups.

Thanks go to Eva Niemann Williams for the illustrations used in the following stories:

“Dopsy Dragon”, “Just Perfect”, “Wormy Party”, and “Where shall we go to?”


Dopsy Dragon and The Wizard of The Wild-Lands

In 2014, I was asked to develop a story about a wizard and dragon. This was for a community group who were planning to have two tree stumps in a local park carved into such figures. Unfortunately, I wasn’t comfortable with the brief as they already had a notion of what kind of dragon and wizard they wanted. However, I was excited by the idea of a dragon and wizard – and trees etc. So, my own story slowly came together – and included a little nonsense rhyme. Thanks go to Eva Niemann Williams for the illustration used in this story. To the story

 

Fuzzy

Research has shown that individual honey bees waggle in order to communicate to the others the whereabouts of nectar. It’s known as the waggle dance. The story begins when the queen bee checks that all her workers can waggle. Fuzzy is the only one who fails. Sneered at and friendless, he flies off on his own. In a churchyard, he meets Fox, Crow, Cat and Squirrel who all try to teach him to dance. His bottom eventually waggles and he is encouraged to return to the hive. Despite further sneers, the queen allows him to demonstrate and is duly impressed. All the bees join in the waggle dance. The story has been developed from ideas gathered on numerous walks with my eldest grandson, Matthew around Isleworth Churchyard. I like to include some closely observed location details in my stories as I believe they give additional depth to the narrative. I consider the story an emotional ride and feel a real attachment to Fuzzy. He is callously pushed away and finds himself friendless before unexpectedly – and joyously – being helped in his hour of need. On reflection, I suppose it’s a little like “The Ugly Duckling” though I certainly didn’t set out to write such a story! To the story

 

Hare had a scare

This is one of those stories that, from the start, took on a life of its own. It’s always a thrill to see a hare and I really wanted to write a story about one. They are incredibly beautiful, powerful and stirring creatures that have a very long history associated with magic, mystery, shapeshifting etc. Although not intended, all these facets, and more, are woven into the narrative. I have been able to include those especial favourites of mine – hare and lark – together with another that I’m very fond of – fox. Goose came to mind because she felt powerful and I needed wings of a hunted creature for Boogy Boo. All of them, even the lark, are hunted by humans (the “heeshees” – a portmanteau of “he” and “she”) and the story is threaded by this fear – though, in the end, there is sweet and dramatic retribution. The pulse of the story is a mystery to me though, and I really couldn’t say precisely what is going on – whether hare is dreaming and having a nightmare, or whether, weirdly, it’s all happening to him in a wild hare-like world that we cannot normally enter. Or perhaps a confusion of both. There are details that I have seen and are directly taken from life e.g. “Hare sat still in the morning chill” and “larking and fluttering in the wide wispy sky”, and these root the story in the natural landscape.They are mixed with ideas from imagination, and the blend creates a sense of a mystery that strangely stirs me. To the story

 

It’s good to hide

This was my first story to be completed. It’s set in – and was originally drafted in – the Greek island of Kefalonia. Hence the descriptions, the creatures that inhabit the story and the particular use of the Greek greeting “Kalimera”. Little brown ant is very busy. On his journey he meets with lizard, cicada, and funnel spider who all urge him to hide – particularly from man. Ant has never been troubled by man so is not concerned. However, when man comes to check his olive trees, disaster befalls ant. The ending is bitter-sweet. It’s sad but then there is still promise of abundant life continuing in the Kefalonian sun. To the story

 

Just in time

Ever felt like tearing your hair out at the antics of a brother – or sister? Well, you might just find yourself empathising with Twirly!  “Just in time” is about a young and far too curious worm called Squiggy (pronounced with hard “g”s). He and his sister, Twirly, are on their way to enjoy the squelchy delights of the compost heap. Unfortunately, his insatiable curiosity keeps getting the better of him and puts him in peril for his life. Each time, it infuriates his desperate sister who has to grab his sticky tail, pull him back and save him. The story enjoys my hallmarks – gentle rhythms and rhymes. Both features give it the musicality and energy with which I imbue all my stories – whether told or written. To the story

 

Mizzy Moth

This story was inspired during a walk through the RSPB reserve at Minsmere in Suffolk. The tale takes inspiration from the creatures and landscape, whilst the story centres on a moth who just wants to be left alone to be himself. Others, like butterfly and weasel etc. think he’s just being miserable. He’s not. They don’t understand him and can’t accept him for what he is. They try to change him. They try. And in a joyfully humorous conclusion, they fail!To the story

 

“Oi!” said Frog

The birds and the beasties are enjoying the delights of their pond. But the grumpy frog reckons it’s his pond and rudely shoos everyone away. When a pretty frog arrives he wants her to be his queen. However, she declares that she will not stay because the pond has become silent, smelly and stale. So, to keep her there, he reluctantly invites everyone back to make the pond a lively place once more. This story introduces an array of creatures that frequent ponds and, working on different levels, will delight children, parents and teachers. To the story

 

Squidge the sulky spider

My storytelling repertoire includes tales of the thoroughly roguish Anansi. This piece is clearly influenced by the many enjoyable years of telling tales of that mischievous and rascally character. Like Anansi, my lovable (hmm!) character Squidge is by turns – rude, ridiculous and yet annoyingly successful! To the story

 

The Pirate Parrots

I wanted to find a different twist to a pirate story. Most seem based on clichés and nowhere have I found another story where the pirates are parrots. Elsewhere, the birds invariably find themselves in the position of side-kicks to the main human characters. Here, they are centre stage. Also, you’ll not find musket, cutlass or cannon. In fact, no human pirate weaponry. This is deliberate. Also deliberate, is the relatively unusual choice of sea creatures. In the midst of the humorous adventure, children – and their grown-ups – may spot that bullying is going on. Though never intended, this has turned out to be quite an anti-bullying tale. The sea creatures all come out on top in the skirmishes with the parrots; and at the end, the shark calls their bluff. Unusually, the rhyming is far more pronounced and regular than in my other stories where it normally reflects the spontaneous and improvised delivery of my storytelling performances. I think there is potential here for at least another parrot voyage. Maybe. To the story

 

The queen who couldn’t be bothered

This isn’t really a jubilee story but it was inspired by the request, in 2012, for a story with a queen theme. I deliberately distanced the queen both in time and space, so the scene is set thus: Long ago, in a far off land, there was once a queen. The queen loved to laugh and have lots of fun – and she was always smiling at everyone. The queen, though, had been queen for a very long time and now she was tired of all the fun and couldn’t be bothered to smile at anyone. The people were sad and wanted the queen to smile again. Visitors (ambassadors) from Brazil, Ghana and Australia wanted her to visit their countries and hopefully smile at their incredible creatures. When she rudely shoos them away, they decide to bring the animals to see her instead. They set sail on choppy, windy seas (whole audience rhyme and actions) and eventually return with lots of exotic beasts. They all hide in the palace, half expecting the queen to be angry. However, they’re all in for a happy surprise. To the story

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