Saturday, July 26, 2008

What's a story?

Eric’s nieces tell him what a good story is. Or is it the other way around?

Sophie: Uncle Eric, tell us a story.
Eric: A story? What’s a story?
Sophie: Something happened.
Sarah: Something funny happened.
Eric: OK. Something happened. Who did this? Made it happen?
Sophie: Somebody.
Sarah: Somebody, somebody - with a big nose.
Eric: Mhmm. And when did this happen to this somebody with a big nose?
Sophie: Long ago…
Sarah: …like last week.
Eric: Ah-ha. And just where does this Mr Bignose live?
Sophie: Far away.
Sarah: I know! Next door.
Eric: And why do you think this happened long ago last week to Mr Bignose who lives faraway next door?
Sarah: Because it’s a story, that’s why.

Questions are the answer. Leading his nieces to answer his wh- questions reveals Eric as an educator. Sophie's answers (long ago and faraway) indicate a preference for traditional tale-telling but Sarah's embellishments to "Who?" and "Where?" (Mr Bignose next door) suggest a creative mischievousness at work. She also has a clever sense of how to close and get the story back on track.

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