Lost & Found

By Elizabeth Garner

A treasure trove of folk tales by Elizabeth Garner

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

60 % and Stealing The Moon


I'm so delighted to have reached the 60% mark over the weekend, it feels like such a significant milestone.  Both Phoebe and I really appreciate all your support.  Please do continue to spread the word and help us bring the book into being.

I'm also delighted to share the results of a wonderful folktales workshop I did with a class of Year 3 children a couple of weeks ago.   Stealing The Moon takes the common folk tale motif of the reflected moon being mistaken for cheese or silver and the village locals trying to 'rake the moon' out of the water.  There are many waterways festivals that have taken this and made it their own - Slaithwaite in Yorkshire being a prime example.

So, it's a motif that begs to be played with... and I turned it into a Trickster Jack tale, with a slight nod to Chaucer character parodies too!

Jack is down on his luck and convinces a band of locals that the moon is made of silver and has fallen into the village well.  He only needs one strong man, brave and true to help him get it out and share the fortune.  Through appealing to the worst parts of their nature he persuades the Farmer, Woodcutter, Soldier, Merchant and Bishop to put aside their most prized possessions and jump down into the well...

Then Jack put on the sturdy boots, placed the axe at one side of his belt and the sword at the other, buttoned the long coat up to the collar, slipped the gold and ruby ring upon his finger and set out.  The smiling moon above lit the road ahead as Jack went on his way, whistling.

And there we must leave the Farmer, the Woodcutter, the Soldier, the Merchant and the Bishop, whose folly blinded them to common sense so that they only saw the world that they wanted to see.  Whether they ever found a way to set aside greed, pride, vanity, cunning and power in favour of the greater good, I do not know.  Perhaps they are down there still, squabbling over a fortune as false as their hearts.

I always intended the book to appeal to both children and adult readers - I was devouring all sorts of folk tales from the absurd to the terrifying by the time I was 8. The workshop was the first time I have shared one of the tales with a younger audience.  I was thrilled by their delight in the story and these lovely, energetic pictures they drew that show just how the tale spoke to them.  It was really inspiring and lots of fun!

I can offer workshops for a range of ages, abilities, and group size.  So if you are interested, or know of anyone who might be, please feel free to contact Unbound, referring to the 'Page Fright' POA reward level.

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Caroline Miles
 Caroline Miles says:

I grew up near Devizes in Wiltshire and this reminds me so much of the local Moonrakers folk tale there that informed many of our school projects about the history of that town. I love the way that the similar but different tales and characters reappear and morph into slightly different forms across time and across the country. This version is wonderful, it looks like the children loved it! Thank you for sharing this!

posted 25th February 2020

Elizabeth Garner
 Elizabeth Garner says:

Hi Caroline,

How interesting that the same 'Moonrakers' motif also worked for your school projects - I think the combination of the mischievous and the possibly magical really appeals to children, especially if it is rooted in a place that they know. And then also, so much space for playfulness and for children to bring their own interpretations.

The Wiltshire connection made me smile... as I have worked on a collaborative performance of the story with the wonderful folk musicians Dipper Malkin (who feature on the promo video) and John Dipper is deeply stepped in the folk traditions of Wiltshire. We combine the story with a tune 'The Emperor Of The Moon' from the John Playford collection, which John has also rewritten and made his own!

posted 26th February 2020

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