There is nothing as intimidating to a storyteller as an audience of babies!

Little boys, little girls, Asian, South Asian, white, sitting on their mommies’ and daddies’ staring at you with their big brown and black and blue eyes, and a blank look on their faces that basically says, “Okay, go ahead. Try and entertain me!”

So you give it your best shot!

You start with your ‘no brainer crowd pleaser story Big Red Lollipop’ and it always works from three to 93, but these babies haven’t hit three yet and even though their parents are smiling and listening, the babies start squirming.

I lose eye contact. Then they wriggle out of their parents’ laps and start crawling or toddling around. One of them is on the bench thing over the heater, stomping his way across it because he obviously likes the sound.

How come they sat so nicely with the other librarian???

And it completely destroys my faith in my storytelling abilities.

I want to stop the story in the middle.

Just stop and switch gears, but there’s a five year old sitting in the middle, his face lit up like a Christmas tree, and even though he’s already heard it, he is obviously enjoying it again.

The biggest challenge with this artist residency has turned out to be the Saturday storytelling. There just so happens to be a few kids who have come to all of the sessions, so that means I can’t just recycle the stories that always work so well.

I have had to learn new ones.

So I pulled out a new story.

An African folktale: Rhinos for Lunch and Elephants for Supper, and yes! I finally had the babies back.

It’s a very simple story, and I told it loudly.

And then after that I did Five Little Monkeys Swinging in the Tree. A finger play, and again the babies approved.

Oh my goodness! They approved.

One or two of them even cracked a smile!

The parents on the other hand were easy!

Of course this story would never have worked!

It’s worked in venues all around the world, and is one of my favourite stories to tell!


But not to babies!

I’ve uploaded it to my youtube channel.

It’s called the Clever Wife.

I hope you enjoy it.