Thursday, April 21, 2016

"Tell Me Your Stories" will delight pre-schoolers

This review was published in the
Boerne Star on Tuesday, April 19, 2016
        Child development specialists agree that learning the art of storytelling is an essential component for optimal childhood socio-intellectual development. In their book Tell Me Your Stories, Michelle Horstman and Ashley Long provide a platform for parents and educators to encourage storytelling in young children.
        The authors describe the idea behind the book as providing “a starting point for children to allow their imaginations to flow with many stories that are all their own. Using unique scratchboard engravings, we have tried to offer just a hint or two of what might be happening in each scene. Our hope is that the child might have a new or altered story to tell every time they look though this book.”
       In fact, each spread in the book consists of a rhyme printed on left pages and a scratchboard engraving on the right facing page. The book was illustrated on scratchboard by Michelle Horstman and her pictures are exquisite. Scratchboard, or scraperboard, is a technique that begins with a hardboard surface coated with a porcelain-type clay. A layer of black ink is brushed over the clay and various engraving tools are used to etch fine lines. There is an enormous amount of detail in Horstman's pictures.
       Each rhyme in the book is open-ended and asks a question. The child is encouraged to tell a story about the verse and the picture that faces it. For instance, the verse that accompanies a picture of a mouse sitting on an owl’s head is “Was it smart of Little Mouse to hide on Mr. Owl’s Head? Or was this a big mistake that he might learn to dread?”
       One of the grea t things about Tell Me Your Stories is that it can be read over and over. A child’s imagination will be sparked each time he or she looks at the book.
       Tell Me Your Stories is available through Amazon and other major booksellers as a physical book and as an e-book. You can check out Horstman’s and Long’s website at and their Facebook page at