Touring In: Labrador

Craft: Storyteller

Ideal Audience Size: 30-60

Maximum Audience Size: 100-120

Grades: Preschool-Grade 8

Special Equipment: For large groups, amplification (cordless microphone preferred)


Presentation Information 

Mariella says “’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.


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 wellbeing. Here are samples of the type of programs I present:


For preschoolers I tell tiny stories using rhythm, repetition, pattern, sounds and rhymes.

For the primary I tell stories about balance and harmony, identity, interconnectedness and assertiveness,

For the junior and higher grades I tell stories with a query or a riddle, fairy tales with magic and wonder, personal stories about growing up, travel stories and stories from the past, including ancient past and stories that explore different environments.”


Book List

“Andreuccio da Perugia” a retelling by Mariella Bertelli, in Tales for an Unknown City, Stories from One Thousand and One Friday Nights of Storytelling, collected by Dan Yashinsky. (McGill-Queens University Press, 1990)


The Monkey in Disguise” a retelling by Mariella Bertelli, in Ghostwise, A Book of Midnight Stories, collected by Dan Yashinsky (Ragweed, 1997)


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



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