I fell in to loving children’s books. I guess there are worse things to fall for. And if one is going to do something, falling in with both feet, eyes open and nose held is a good way to start. I began working as a bookseller in my early twenties and had been given the responsibility of managing the Children’s Books section. I floundered around in the waves of books I had never heard of, new stories that had appeared after I’d been busy being all grown-up. Appearing after I’d been away growing up in a foreign land. So I returned. Back to a place I knew and started from there. The land of Narnia and The Jolly Postman and The Faraway Tree. I revisited Pippi Longstocking and Matilda and The Worst Witch. Looking and taking in the illustrations of Jan Pienkowski and Quentin Blake and Shirley Hughes.
And it was from then that I began to remember the child I was, the child I had become, I child I am. It was nice to go back, to return to that place and I was happy. I moved out of bookselling and became a teaching assistant where I continued to play and draw and tell stories and soon these stories began to change from the stories of my childhood, to the stories of the children around me. I trained in therapeutic storywriting, a process in which the writer tells their story, with all the good bits and bad bits. Where the voice of the writer is held and honoured and preserved. It felt good, it felt right and I wanted more, I wanted to hear more stories from the children I held dear.
And so, my mind began to wander again and I read the words of Maria Montessori, the Italian educationalist and I went to study and train as a Montessori teacher. I continued to tell stories and took a plane to a forest in Northern Israel. It was here that I met many wonderful storytellers, people who told stories every day, who went places to tell stories and people would go to listen to them tell their stories. I stayed with these people and played and drew and wrote, daring to hope that one day, I too may be a storyteller and travel places.
And I became one, a storyteller that is. It happened in a park in London W14. I was 33 and swinging on a swing and beside me were three children. They too were swinging on the swings and as we continued to swing our legs we started to flow, move at the same time, get in sync. I was a nanny, or so I thought. Like Mary Poppins, I lived with these three children and their parents. But what I didn’t know, was that I was the storyteller I had always been and all I’d needed was for someone to listen. And so, The Storytree became and began to take form. The roots had always been there, now it was starting to grow.
The Storytree was founded on a love of books and stories, a foundation of following the child and the need to know that my voice and that of others is listened to, prized and cherished.