There’s something enthralling about listening to someone weave stories in such a way that it captures the audience’s imagination. We had an opportunity to hear a professional storyteller at the library today.

Storyteller Daryll Bellingham, October 2010
Bellingham blew into his train whistle and shook his maraca as sound effects for the little blue train.

Daryll Bellingham is one of Queensland’s best professional storytellers. He tells a mixture of folk tales, adventures, fantasy and improvised stories with help from the audience.

The library had advertised his performance for months beforehand, and it was shame that only nine children were booked in at the Beenleigh library’s performance today. I hope his other performances throughout the Logan Library network were better attended.

I was certainly impressed with Bellingham’s animated performance! He used props freely to give sound effects, sometimes calling things by their wrong names to get a reaction from the kids.

At the library, October 2010
Our girls were enthralled, although they remained too shy to vocalise along with the other children.
Storyteller Daryll Bellingham, October 2010
Bellingham moved around freely — scooting from side-to-side and dancing along with his exaggerated actions.

It’s a gift to be able to keep young children entertained. Especially without reverting to cheap gimmicks, bribery or coercion. And Bellingham did this beautifully. He invited audience participation through repetition, questioning, calling for story suggestions, actions and thoughtful verbal interaction with the kids.

Storyteller Darryl Bellingham, October 2010
In one story about a pirate, Bellingham waved this flexible pipe over his head to recreate the moaning sound of the wind.
Storyteller Darryl Bellingham, October 2010
At the very end of the session, Bellingham brought out his "African baby" — a djembe drum.

Bellingham invited everyone up to have a turn beating on his drum. With my girls having been so silent, I really encouraged them to take a turn. And they loved it.

Brioni, 4yo, October 2010
"Do a loud beat."
Darryl Bellingham and Aisha, 5yo, October 2010
"Try with just one finger on each hand," he said. So she did.

Calista sat very quietly next to my side the whole time. Sometimes she was interested in the stories. Other times she pulled books off the bookcase behind her and looked at them.

I would gladly chase down another performance of Darryl Bellingham. He’s got a gift. My girls called him “The Playschool Man” — a reference to a popular local children’s television program — because he was so interactive in his performance, just like they are on Playschool!