The Elves & The Shoemaker - Reimagined

General / 20 November 2023

As commissioned for research on Invisibilized labour: feminist critiques of GDP and ideas of growth by Roos Saalbrink as part of the Atlantic Fellowship for Social and Economic Equity.

This folktale explores Talcott Parsons' Warm Bath Theory, and the dynamics surrounding the current exploitation of women in the economy.

The Greedy Ostrich - Discussion Guide

General / 20 September 2023


In the beautiful town of Treetop where all the birds live, Ògòngò the ostrich has an important message to deliver to his bird friends: Òrúnmìlà is throwing a feast in his big house in the sky and has invited all the birds. They’re excited about the feast, and when the time comes, they fly to Òrúnmìlà’s house to grace the occasion. At the feast there is music and plenty to eat and drink, and everyone is happy with their plate—except for Ògòngò, whose long throat is about to land him in hot soup!

Begin the discussion by reading the book.

Discussion Prompts:

  1. Characters:

    • Who are the main characters in the story? (Ogongo the Ostrich, Lekeleke the Egret, Odidere the Parrot and Orunmila the Orisa.)
    • What do you know about Ogongo? What role does he play in treetop town? (Ogongo is a public servant in treetop town. He works for everyone in the town, and for Orunmila.)
    • How do the female characters in the story behave? (Owiwi the owl is wise and welcomes Ogongo morning and night, to get information. Odidere is a good neighbour to Lekeleke, she takes good care of herself, and she speaks up when she is wronged.)
  2. Setting and Time:

    • Where do birds live?
    • When does the story take place? Is it in the past or present?
    • What would life be like if there were no phones?
  3. The Hungry Ostrich:

    • Why do you think Ogongo was always hungry? Why did he have to demand for food?
    • What does the food symbolize? (The food symbolizes payment/value for Ogongo's work. It can symbolize taxes or bribes in the context of civil service)
  4. Orunmila's Feast:

    • What type of person was Orunmila?
    • Why did he host a feast?
  5. Lekeleke's Advice:

    • What type of advice does Lekeleke give Ogongo?
    • How do you know when someone is giving you good advice?
  6. The Special Pounded Yam:

    • What happens when Ogongo eats Orunmila's food?
    • Do you think he could continue to be a messenger to the treetop birds after his transformation?
  7. The Moral of the Story:

    • What do you think the story is trying to teach us?
    • Why is it important to not take/demand more than what is freely offered?


  1. Draw and Color:

    • Give each child a piece of paper and ask them to draw and colour their own version of Ogongo. Encourage creativity!
    • Comment or email the artist to request a free printable colouring activity page for younger children.
  2. Act It Out:

    • Assign roles and have the children act out key scenes from the story.
    • Suggested scenes: Ogongo meeting Odidere to invite her for the feast. All the birds getting ready for the feast and flying there. Orunmila welcoming them. Orunmila discovering someone ate his food and asking in a loud voice "Who ate my pounded yam". Ogongo's transofrmation, trying to hide, and heartfelt apology.
  3. Rewrite the Ending:

    • Ask the children to come up with alternative endings to the story where Ogongo behaved differently.

Additional Discussion:

  1. Other Folktales:

    • Are there other folktales with greedy characters that you know? How are they different from the one we discussed?
  2. Lessons Learned:

    • What lessons did Ogongo learn from his experiences?
  3. Modern Lessons:

    • How can we apply the lessons from "The Greedy Ostrich" to our lives today, especially when it comes to forgiving, giving and receiving?


Summarize the main points of the discussion and emphasize the importance of being content with what you are offered, and generous towards others.

Remember to adapt the questions and activities to the age and comprehension level of the children you are working with. This discussion guide aims to promote critical thinking and engage young readers in a contemporary folktale.

Guide to Storytelling

Tutorial / 20 September 2023

Storytelling is a versatile skill that can be used in various aspects of life, from writing fiction to giving presentations and speeches. it is a powerful way to convey information, entertain, and connect with others.  Keep practicing and honing your storytelling abilities, and you'll become a more effective and engaging storyteller over time.

Here's a guide to help you become a better storyteller:

1. Understand the Basics:

   - Character: Every good story has one or more central characters. These are the people or entities around whom the story revolves. Create well-rounded, relatable characters. Give them depth by exploring their motivations, flaws, and growth throughout the story. Dialogue can reveal character traits and advance the plot. Make it natural and purposeful.

   - Plot: The plot is the sequence of events in your story. Most stories follow a three-act structure: introduction, rising action, and resolution. Ensure a logical flow and pacing. Your story should have a clear conflict that builds tension and a satisfying resolution where loose ends are tied up.

   - Setting: The setting is where and when your story takes place. It sets the stage and helps the audience immerse themselves in the narrative. Use descriptive language and sensory details to help your audience visualize and experience the story.

   - Conflict: Conflict is the driving force of your story. It's the problem or challenge that the main character must overcome.

2. Connect to your audience:

   - Tailor your story to your audience. Consider their age, interests, and background. What will resonate with them? Describe sensory experiences like sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch to immerse your audience in the story. Understand your characters' perspectives and emotions. Make your audience care about the characters and their journey. Emotional connections lead to memorable stories.

3. Keep them hooked:

   - Begin your story with a captivating hook to grab your audience's attention. This could be a surprising fact, a question, a dramatic statement, or a vivid description. Build suspense through the story. Keep your audience engaged by introducing conflicts, obstacles, and challenges that create suspense and anticipation. Incorporate visuals and emotions to make your story more engaging and relatable.

4. Discuss the themes and messages:

   - Think about the themes or messages you want to convey through your story. What lessons or insights can your audience gain?

5. Stay open to feedback:

   - Practice storytelling regularly to improve your skills. Feedback may be verbal or non-verbal. Keep learning. Storytelling is an evolving art. Read books, watch movies, and listen to other storytellers to learn and draw inspiration. Don't get discouraged if you don't achieve your desired level of skill immediately.

6. Edit and Revise:

   - Writing is rewriting. After you've written your story, edit it for clarity, coherence, and conciseness.

Whether it's through writing, speaking, or other mediums, share your stories with the world. Share stories that are meaningful to you. Authenticity resonates with audiences. You never know whose life you might touch or inspire.

Preparing your Children's Story for Illustrations

Tutorial / 12 April 2023

So, you want to write a children's book but you're not sure when it's okay to reach out to an illustrator?

Here's a quick, no-nonsense guide.

The first question to ask yourself is this; are you self-publishing?

If the answer is no, then don't worry about the illustrator. Let the publisher take care of that. 

If the answer is yes, then stick around.

It is best to contact the illustrator when your manuscript is complete and well edited. Re-writing is part of the editing process, and sometimes new ideas come up.

When you reach out to an illustrator, they are likely to ask you questions about your book. You need to be able to answer all the questions without sharing your manuscript. It is important to protect your intellectual property. But how can you be sure of how many illustrations you will need?

You can figure that out by creating a picture book dummy. A picture book dummy is a very useful tool. It helps you organize the text in your story and see how things will flow from page to page. 

There are many ways to do this. You can use sticky notes, or a folded sheet of paper. But I've created a digital tool for this. I used this tool to develop my author-illustrator projects. You can get it for free here.

Once you have the text in dummy form, you may choose to write prompts for the illustrator to work with.  It's great if the left and right sides of the book work together. Take note of what is happening on each spread, and how scenes change from spread to spread.

With that you are ready! You have a clear vision of what you need. You can create an illustration brief with confidence, and answer all questions easily. You can also identify illustrators who are the best fit for you. 

If this helped you, share it!

The Hare

General / 23 May 2020

One day the hare went to the house of the hunter who was away hunting.

He said to the hunter’s wife, ‘Come to my house and live with me; we have meat and vegetables everyday’. 

The woman went with him. The hare took her deep into the bush, but when she saw the lair of the hare and had eaten grass with him and slept in the open with him, she was not satisfied. 

‘I want to go back’ she said. 

The hare replied, ‘you came here by your own choice’.

The woman did not know the way in the bush. She tried to retrace her steps, but found herself back where she started, so she said to the hare ‘Come with me and I will cook a nice dinner’. 

The hare took her to her house. Then she said ’Get me some firewood’.

The hare went to the forest and collected a load of firewood. The woman lit a fire and put a pot of water on it. Then she began to chop up vegetables. After a while she said to the hare, ‘see if the water is boiling’. 

As the hare opened the pot to check, steam rushed his face. The woman pushed the hare into the pot and put the lid back on.

When the hunter came home she said ‘I made meat and vegetables for dinner.’

The hunter never knew what happened.

Credit: The Hare is a Swahili folktale, featured in  'Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales'.

Illustrations copyright © Olusayo Ajetunmobi.