Touring In: Labrador

Craft: Storyteller

Ideal Audience Size: 30-60

Maximum Audience Size: 100-120

Grades: Preschool-Grade 8

Special Equipment: Computer and a screen


Presentation Information 

“There was once” or Once upon a time or “Here is…” or “Acka Backa…” There are many ways to start to tell a story or to capture those who are before you. These are tricks of the  trade that I, as many storytellers, know well. I also love the silence of the stories that make us tell and listen in a deeper way. I love telling stories to audiences young and old from babies and tots to children and teens, adults and seniors. I have stories that appeal to specific age groups but I also know and tell stories that I am able to adapt for listeners of any age.

I have included at the bottom a list of workshops or presentations  as supplementary activities in case there is interest. 

Here are some specific programs: 

See Saw Up and Down
Rhymes, echoes, tiny tales and finger games, action circles and little songs. This is a program of fun sounds and rhythms for the very young which can be adapted  for babies [6-16 months+] or toddlers (17-36 months) or preschoolers  (3-5 yrs.)
Audience: Preschool-SK
Time: 35-45 minutes

Tell Me Why? Pourquoi Tales
Folktales about animals with unique traits. These are teaching tales that often make us smile. They are about identity and community, the world around us and other cultures.
Audience: SK-Grade 3
Time: 45-60 minutes

Curious Tales of Wonder from Around the World
These stories come from many places. They are about marvel or about marvellous and brave creatures; some of the stories have a twist.
Audience: Grades 3-5
Time: 45-60 minutes

Inside the Mountain, Deep Down in the Sea
From Venetian shores to the coast of Sicily, come enchanting stories of folk heroines and heroes, where spells and magic change fates and fortunes.
Audience: This program may be adapted for either Grades 4-6 or Grades 6-8
Time:45-60 minutes

Arrival and  Adventures in a New Land
These are personal narratives about traveling and settling first in Italy as a child then in Canada as a teenager. These are stories of resilience which show how through supporting relationships and personal initiative, one can adjust and  settle in a new land.
Audience: Grades 5+
Time: 45-60 minutes

Lost and Found
A family saga that unravels the lives of a woman and a man, continents apart but united by fate. It is a story of love lost and found, of stories lost and found, from Italy to Brazil, Palestine and Egypt. These are stories of my grandparents that I have put together from memories, historical facts and imagined moments.
Audience:Grades 6+
Time: 60 minutes 


Rhythms, Rhymes and Tiny Tales: How to Tell to Very Young Children
Chants and rhymes of childhood lead us into language play, learning and repeating together echoes and rhythms for the sheer joy of voice and language. A love of language that we can then pass on and use with our  children.
Audience: Adults
Time: 60-90 minutes (*additional fees apply for 90 minute sessions)

I Tell You Tell We All Tell Together
Finding the thread of the story, holding it and passing it along. This is a workshop about listening  and telling with others
Audience: Grades 4-6
Time 60-90 minutes (* additional fees apply for 90 minute sessions)

Kamishibai Storytelling
After listening to a story the children will create images and make their own kamishibai, an old storytelling method from Japan.
Audience: Grades 2-5
Time: 2 1/2  hours (* additional fees apply)

A Treasure for an Island
Stories about a far away island, Lampedusa, in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, a stepping stone for people who travel from Africa to Europe and from Europe to Africa. I will tell about my involvement there to create a children’s library for children who live there but also for those who are passing by. I will also talk about Wordless picture books from around the world. and chants I learned from the local children.This presentation has also visuals.
Equipment: Computer and large screen
Audience: Grades 4+
Time: 60 minutes 

The Use of Enchantment: Fairy tales, Stories and Their Magic
Part lecture part storytelling this workshop demonstrates the power of listening and telling stories.
Audience: Adults
Time: 1 hour + Q&A 

Storytelling: The Art of Oral Literature
This power point  presentation with images and art tells the story of storytelling  with a historical overview, from the earliest times to today.
Equipment: computer and screen
Audience: Grades 6+ and Adults
Time: 60 minutes

Remembering and Imagining: An Exploration of Family Stories
This workshop teaches skills and tricks on how to retrieve family stories, so that we can learn and teach others to cherish our past, honour our ancestors and gain knowledge about our family history.
Audience: Adults
Time: 60-90 minutes (* additional fees apply for 90 minute sessions)


Book List

The Shirt of the Happy Man
Written by Mariella Bertelli
Illustrated by Laszlo Gal
(Kids Can Press, 1977)



Mariella says “Storytelling for me has been and continues to be my “medicine”, medicine as intended by our First Peoples. For when I tell stories, I’m in my element, I feel balanced and integrated. By giving breath to stories from my heritage and my life experience, I am able to communicate and connect with those around me, achieving with them a sense of personal and collective well being.”

Mariella Bertelli is an international, Toronto-based storyteller who tells fluently in English and/or Italian. She is a longtime and experienced storyteller, with a wide repertoire of world folk and fairy tales, especially from her Italian heritage, while she has also developed stories from her Canadian newcomer’s experience from when she first arrived as a teenager. Mariella’s style is varied, from longer narratives to tiny tales, she adapts her craft to suit young and older audiences. She sometimes uses other arts, like Bankelsang, Kamishibai and tall or miniature puppets. Her rhymes and rhythms enchant little ones while her family sagas of migration and endurance captivate older children and teens.

Mariella began storytelling while doing Children’s theatre, touring schools, libraries and playgrounds in Toronto. After she completed her Master in Library Science, she became a Children’s Librarian for 22 years, integrating storytelling in her library programs with children of all ages, including babies and teens.

As a storyteller and through her work as a member of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People), Mariella has been an advocate for children and young people’s rights to stories, literacy and information. Her passion for stories and her interest in human rights issues have brought her to the island of Lampedusa four times, to create a children’s library there for the local and the refugee children. To bring attention to Lampedusa and the refugee crisis, she brought to Canada the Silent Books Exhibit that toured in six Canadian cities in 2015-16. Mariella traveled along telling stories, while also advocating for literacy and outreach to newcomers. With this project she was invited to speak at the 1st IBBY Europe Congress in Bologna, Italy, in April 201: Bridging Worlds: Reaching Out to Young Refugees with Books and Stories. She has also developed a training program on how to use stories and books for people working with newcomers and refugees, The Voice of Books: Practical Instructions on How to Use Books and Stories, presented in Rome in October.

Mariella has been telling at National and International festivals, events and conferences in Canada, the U.S., South Africa, England, Belgium, Italy; she has taught storytelling courses and has presented a variety of workshops to adults, children and families; she has been a speaker on storytelling and is active in the storytelling world community.

Working to further develop storytelling as a performing art, Mariella has in the last four years directed storytelling group shows, while also  mentoring and coaching younger tellers. She continues to have a fascination and curiosity about the power of stories and still loves to explore the medium on her own and with others.



“Mariella brings passion and depth to her [storytelling] craft and enchants audiences of all ages with her knowledge, warmth and humour. She works well with children and adults of all ages!”

—Mary Anne Cree, Junior School Librarian, The Bishop Strachan School   

“Mariella is a most highly regarded and valued member of MITS [Mariposa in the Schools]. Her love for children and of language and good story well told is authentic and compelling. Through her stories, Mariella enlightens and delights her listeners by mixing genres, styles and languages that reflect her rich repertoire, experiences and influences. I have been consistently impressed by her vast repertoire of stories from fun rhymes and story/ songs for the very young, to folk and fairy tales, to personal and original stories, she engages listeners of all ages from infants and toddler to teens.”

—Dolores Anderson, Executive Director, Mariposa in the Schools