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Transforming Tales

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Table of Contents

Introduction. 1. The Natural Storyteller. 2. The Spanish Game:Guided Imagery and Stories. 3. The Way You Tell 'em: The Art and Craft of Oral Storytelling. 4. Traditional Ways of Storytelling. 5. Marvellous Miniatures: Making Short Metaphors. 6. New Lamps for Old: Transposing Stories. 7. Traps and Treasures: Symbols, Storied Within Stories and Metaphorical Literacy. Notes and References. Index.

Promotional Information

Over 90 short stories, from traditional fables to fascinating modern yarns, reveal the therapeutic power of storytelling

About the Author

Rob Parkinson is a very widely experienced storyteller who has also practised extensively as a therapist. As a performer, he has told his tales in all kinds of likely and unlikely places, from theatres, festivals, schools and libraries to pubs and clubs, restaurants and zoos. A varied career path prior to becoming a professional included teaching, driving trucks and taxis, restoring antiques, playing guitar in bars, painting signs and travelling extensively - and provided vital experience to draw on as a tale teller. His other publications include acclaimed short books of fun story ideas in the Natural Storytellers series and several CDs for both adults and children. Rob lives in Tonbridge in Kent with his wife Ruth and daughter, Asha.


A cornucopia of ancient and modern stories is interspersed with guidance on storytelling techniques, making learning from this book both entertaining and experiential. Facilitators will find tips that can be adapted in work with others: how to "wake up" an audience with a surprise or puzzle; how to spin out a story or repeat a key motif in order to engage imaginations at a deep level...Anyone who loves stories will enjoy this book. Those seeking creative ways of working with others will be rewarded, as will those curious about how our minds interpret narratives and approach change. -- Lapidus Journal, Fiona Hamilton, author This is a source of fabulous ideas and insights on the art of storytelling I will dip into again and again. Thought provoking explanations and rich examples are underpinned with biological information all of which flow easily from Rob's huge experience and skill as a storyteller. It seems as if stories really are wound into our DNA. -- Andy Vass, psychotherapist, coach and author of Teaching with Influence and Coaching and Mentoring for Leaders An illuminating account of the stories behind, within, above and below metaphors. The author's style is wonderfully engaging and flows beautifully from start to finish... This book will inspire anyone who works in therapeutic, creative, educational or business settings as well as being a joyful read to those who are fascinated by stories, fables and folklore. -- Jaycee la Bouce, therapist and coach A very interesting and unusual book... The central theme of stories for change is challenging and exciting and it offers a good deal of wisdom about working with stories and insights into the stories themselves -- Mary Medlicott, former Chair of the Society of Storytelling This book is an ambitious and significant attempt to draw together the deep values of oral storytelling and its contemporary contexts. The result is a wise, humane and practical primer which will be of interest to all those touched by the burgeoning renaissance. -- Blethers Newsletter Pure gold both for adept storytellers and those for whom story making seems a mysterious art, this enormously rich book brings together the wealth of knowledge about stories that is currently mostly dispersed across different fields, such as education, psychology, psychotherapy, anthropology, folklore and entertainment. Much more than a manual for creating and telling stories, the book itself, with its 90 or more stories, has the capacity to transform, sowing subtle seeds of possibility in the mind of the reader. From the outset, there is an immediacy and warmth to Parkinson's prose, which engages the reader in a very practical way. This book is, in my opinion, the crown jewel of storybooks, carefully constructed and a perfect joy to read. I shall return to it again and again. -- Human Givens Journal An illuminating account of the art, mechanics and history of storytelling. Transforming Tales is of value to those working in the field of psychiatry or looking to learn more about the power and significance of stories. A fascinating and eye-opening journey, it offers a fresh perspective on an ancient form. -- Inside Out There's something for everyone in this book, from those who are interested in the history of the story to those, such as therapists, who want to use them to change behaviour. Parkinson says that stories exist to expand the mind; I would say his book does that too, giving readers the skills and confidence to effect great change with the simple art of storytelling. -- Rapport The use of language throughout the book is interesting, stimulating and thought provoking. The extensive use of fables, stories, shorts, narratives, and vignettes, enables Parkinson to share the tools and techniques of the storytelling trade in a unique way. His clever uses of drama and cliff hangers within the illustrations also draw the reader in, helping him/her move through the book more smoothly and enthusiastically than if one had an academic textbook. -- Journal of Applied Arts and Health This is a book to suit all audiences, from novice to experienced tellers. Although written with a strong slant towards the psychological side of stories, and obviously with therapists in mind, it is not restricted to storytellers interested in therapeutic work. It is written in an entertaining and engaging style, and is heavily seeded with anecdotes and stories. The discussions, exercises and stories should be of interest to everyone. I would recommend this for anyone interested in telling stories or in the power of storytelling. -- Facts & Fiction It is a book rich in the art and craft of the storyteller and how they can be used in many different ways and settings...This book is constructed in such a way that it gives you confidence to develop the storyteller in you... I recommend this book for everyone who wants to be connected with the storyteller and story listener within themselves. Enjoy. -- British Psychodrama Journal The potential of this book, not to replace but to supplement and inform the literature of pedagogy and therapy, is enormous. The author is correct in saying that there is much 'piecemeal knowledge' about stories - including that of pedagogues, philosophers and therapists - think of Jung's 'archetypes', for example - which "needs to be shared in a practical and accessible way". (p.18). This book is certainly accessible; it is also articulate, entertaining and challenging. And it is most definitely the work of a consummate storyteller. Rob Parkinson has clearly achieved his stated aim in producing "a manual to which you can return over and again to try out new ideas" -- Pastoral Care in Education

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