Thursday, September 30, 2010

StoryWorld by John and Caitlin Matthews

I am a big fan - of course I am - of good storytelling so any kind of aid that encourages writers, teachers and children to come up with new ideas and plots, will get a thumbs up from me.

It is thanks to Essjay (Sarah) that I discovered these little packages from Templar Books. I swooned when I saw them online. I nearly fainted when they arrived after I ordered them. Firstly, I ordered the main set of StoryWorld cards because I loved the look of it. It was only when they arrived that I spotted the tagline from Philip Pullman himself: "A very ingenious idea" - that impressed me. Opening the box reveals two sides: left hand side is The Storytelling Book. It is an uncomplicated beautifully illustrated book that gives you information on how to use it, it gives you a breakdown of each card. The Book is a beautiful hardback too and it makes a fantastic and very attractive package. On the right hand side are the cards - they are about the size of my hand and incredibly tactile.

In this photo below you can see the first StoryWorld box that contains the wonderful hardback book and the set of cards. The cards are stunning - they are so inspiring. On the back of the cards are write-ups about the picture on the front. These can be used as prompts for yourself or your young audience. I also had to own Quests and Adventures as well as Faery Magic. The "smaller" boxes contain a full set of the cards, different to other sets and the main set, along with a smaller paperback booklet that once again gives suggestions how to use the cards and booklet.

The pictures below are from the StoryWorld Quest and Adventure pack. Again, the illustrations are wonderfully detailed and each card is somehow linked to another card in that deck - all you have to do is take the time to examine the visual clues.

These cards are from the main StoryTellers deck and like the Quests and Faery decks, the cards are linked to each other. Various games are suggested to use during class sessions with younger folk or even with adults. Each of the books give examples how a handful of cards have been used to create a story which you can then read.

I genuinely do like these - apart from the fact that they are aesthetically pleasing, they are also a very clever way to encourage children to use their imaginations to tell their own stories. But to be honest, from an adult aspiring writer's point of view, they are wonderfully evocative and if you sit quietly for a few moments to examine the cards and the prompts, a ridiculous amount of ideas crop up.

The cards below are from the Faery Deck - just so pretty. These decks definitely work on your various archetypes but it goes further than that, using visual clues to teach young storytellers (and older ones) how easy it is to connect certain concepts and such.

I placed the photo below so that you can see what I mean by the clues and questions printed on the back of the cards. Clever little prompts to think through and to generate further ideas.

I showed them to my friend Michelle who is a parent to two young girls, both of them are very active little kids but they do love their stories. Both of them have amazing vocabularies and when I hauled these cards out, Michelle's eyes lit up and she immediately cottoned onto how they were to be used and showed them to the girls. Needless to say the rest of the afternoon we were regaled with stories of rescues and princesses and dogs and fish. These will make great Christmas or birthday pressies for aspiring storytellers, no matter the age. Or even for someone who enjoys amazing artwork. The cards are illustrated by Wayne Anderson and I am more than just a bit smitten.

This is the main StoryWorld website and find Templar's site here, along with Caitlin and John's site here.

Edited to add: Please note that there are multiple artists involved in each pack including Paul Hess, David Lawrence, Nicki Palin and Matilda Harrison to name a few.


Steve Feasey said...

SOLD! Off to get some now. They look absolutely great.

Thanks, Liz.

Emma Newman said...

Wow, those look amazing. I could see them being used by authors, roleplaying GMs, parents, teachers - just fantastic! Thanks for writing about them, I'm sure they would have passed me by otherwise. I'm off to see where I can get my little mits on them :)

Essjay said...

I love these cards. As Liz has said they're a great tool to encourage imagination and storytelling skills in children and adults. I use them far more than I thought I would. It's not just the object which is foremost in the picture that grabs the attention. There's a myriad of little objects in each card, each time I look at them I notice something else. Wonderful when the writing gets a bit tricky! There are some new extra packs out now: Stories of the Sea, Animal Tales, The Magical Toy Box, Mad Professor's Workshop and I heard rumours of a Tales from the Haunted House pack too.

Jayne Roscoe said...

Thanks to Liz for an inspiring review. Just to let everyone know two new packs are out now Tales from the Haunted House and Christmas Tales. Just perfect for the winter evenings ahead.

John Matthews said...

Wonderful to hear you are all loving the cards so much. It took us 21 years to find a publisher who would take them on. Bravo Templar! Please note that there are loads of illustrators involved. Great though Wayne is, each pack has four artists. Thank you for your wonderful comments. Tell yoir friends - let's get storytelling back into the family!

John & Caitlin Matthews

TheEssentialRose said...

I teach Reiki and other classes for children and certainly look forward to receiving these cards (that I just ordered!) and using them in these classes. I also look forward to what they hold in regards to self discovery.
Thanks for such an awesome write up with pictures. I am certainly inspired!