Stories change with who tells them, who listens to them, and how they’re told. It’s one of the things we’ve loved most about StoryFest these past five years – creating a space for new and familiar stories to grow. We honour this exchange through these written and illustrated stories curated in the Festival commission, The Book of Tales.
This collaboration brings together five international storytellers who have previously made their Asian premiere at StoryFest Singapore, and five Singapore-based visual artists. Presented as a digital picture book, these stories commemorate the transmission of oral tradition beyond borders.
The Book of Tales will be available online without charge beyond the Festival. We invite you to enjoy and share the stories in their different forms. Revisit the stories as many times as you want – see how they change (or not) with you.
Shela’s Journey (West Africa)
Storywriter: Maïmouna Jallow (Kenya)
Illustrator: A’shua Imran
After slave traders kidnapped her parents from their home, young Shela goes in search of them. Her journey brings her through time to different continents. Using special powers, she reminds her descendants that their ancestors have not forgotten them, and that they can still find their way back home.
The Bulbul and the Tortoise (Arabic folktale from North Africa)
Storywriter: Martina Pisciali (Italy)
Illustrator: Chan Shu Yin
Three tortoises live in a garden at the edge of the desert. One day, a bulbul flies overhead, singing. The trio convinced it to stay – even though staying meant that the bulbul had to give up a big part of itself. The day a trespasser appears, the bulbul sees the tortoises’ true colours. Discover the dangers of losing ourselves for the sake of an easy life.
Edith’s Lyrebird (Australia)
Storywriter: Jackie Kerin (Australia)
Illustrator: Tham Pui San
When a lyrebird* appears in her garden, Edith the flower farmer’s first reaction is to get rid of it. After all, it dug out her plants and built mounds! Once the duo get to know each other, Edith softens and changes her mind. How does she celebrate her new friend instead?
*An iconic Australian bird that performs complex dances and the world’s finest mimicry.
The Six Swans (Germany)
Storywriter: Daniel Allison (Scotland)
Raven’s six brothers have been cursed to live as swans. She learns that she can lift the curse by sewing nettle shirts. However, she must bear this burden and remain silent until they’re finished. She remained silent when wrongfully accused of killing her own son. She remained silent when sentenced to be burned for her so-called crime. How will she save herself?
The Child of the Simorgh (Iran)
Storywriter: Xanthe Gresham Knight (England)
Illustrator: Kumuda Krovvidi
When Sam’s newborn son is different, he banishes his child. Unexpectedly, his son finds a home with Simorgh, a mythical bird. Years later, Sam arrives at Simorgh’s nest filled with regret, forcing Simorgh to make a choice. Enjoy this story from the epic Persian poem, Shahnameh (The Book of Kings), that explores acceptance, forgiveness and family.
Maïmouna Jallow (Kenya)
Maïmouna Jallow is the co-founder and director of Nairobi-based arts and media company Positively African. She is a storyteller, editor, playwright and director of award-winning shows. Tales of the Accidental City, her debut experimental feature-length film that takes place on Zoom, was released in 2021. She edited the anthology Story Story, Story Come – 12 Re-Imagined Folktales from Africa and holds an MA in African Literature from SOAS.
A’shua Imran (Singapore)
A'shua Imran is a Singaporean artist working primarily in the medium of painting and performance. He graduated from LASALLE College of the Arts (Singapore) with a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art (Goldsmiths, UK) in 2014, and has since presented his works in Singapore, The Netherlands, Egypt, South Africa and Spain.
Martina Pisciali (Italy)
Martina Pisciali is an Italian storyteller based in South Tyrol. She studied with the Compagnia Raccontamiunastoria (Rome) and has performed internationally in countries including Brazil, UAE and Singapore. Holding a Master's degree in Agricultural Sciences, she has a soft spot for nature-related stories. Martina is fluent in English, Italian and German and is a seasoned story-translator. She loves to collaborate with musicians and bring stories to life.
Chan Shu Yin (Singapore)
Shu Yin’s art traverses the realms of Nature, human being's relationship with it, as well as existentialism and the human condition. An illustrator and art therapist who previously worked as a visual effects artist, she appreciates the therapeutic properties of traditional media. She taught herself how to paint in watercolour, which is her medium of choice.
Jackie Kerin (Australia)
Jackie lives in Melbourne, Australia. She acknowledges that Aboriginal Australians are the First Peoples and that she lives on Country long mapped by story, song and dance. Keeping a global outlook, she loves that Australia is now a country with a population of migrant people, still carrying and sharing stories from their places of origin – a rich storytelling environment for anyone who has a passion for the oral tradition.
Tham Pui San (Singapore)
Pui San is a self-taught artist who loves nature. An active volunteer with NParks for 19 years, he shares nature through art with the community through outdoor sketching and events at nature reserves including Sungei Buloh. His artworks have been exhibited at the National Library, HortPark and Botanic Gardens. He has authored three publications on art including Beyond Gingers: My Encounters with Nature.
Daniel Allison (Scotland)
Daniel Allison is a Scottish storyteller, author and podcaster. Known for his evocative style and lyrical language, Daniel has performed in schools, prisons and on stage at global festivals. Daniel hosts the podcast House of Legends and is the founder of the Roundhouse Storytelling School, a unique online school for storytellers. He is the author of Scottish Myths & Legends and The Orkney Cycle. He divides his time between Scotland and Thailand.
Joycelyn Wong (Singapore)
Joycelyn Wong (Mslatenightjam) is an artist and illustrator who enjoys exploring creative applications for her drawing and acquires inspiration through sharing with others. A graduate of LASALLE’s Fine Arts faculty with a Diploma in Visual Communication from Temasek Polytechnic, she was formerly a graphic designer and arts educator for secondary school students. She now produces artworks and murals including commissions for Food Republic, All Things N'ice, PAssionArts, ReadFest and more.
Xanthe Gresham Knight (UK)
An internationally renowned storyteller, Xanthe has been Storyteller in Residence for Harvard University and is a core storyteller for the British Museum. Her specialisms are Shahnameh and shows celebrating the feminine divine including Cassandra for BBC Radio 4 and Morgana Le Fey for The Cheltenham Literature Festival. She is author of Goddesses and Heroines with Thames and Hudson and several children’s books.
Kumuda Krovvidi (Singapore)
Kumuda Krovvidi is the co-founder of Strokearts Studio and is an arts educator and artist who has been involved with the art scene in Singapore for over 10 years. She teaches Indian Art at her studio and conducts workshops for corporates, institutions, museums and community centres in Singapore. Her book, An Introduction to Indian Folk Art Painting, was published in Singapore.