Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Telling Evening with Alice McGill

One summer afternoon I visited with professional storyteller, Alice McGill in her home in Maryland. We sat down and ate a hearty dinner with her husband, and she talked about many things including growing up in a small farming community in Scotland Neck, North Carolina with her seven siblings. She reminisced about how storytelling and reading were some of her favorite activities as a young girl and how she was often asked to tell stories by family members. McGill, who is also an award winning author, has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada, South Africa and the West Indies to collect and tell stories.

After dinner Alice invited me upstairs and shared some photos of her family with me. I was struck by a beautiful photo of her on the wall taken decades ago by a professional photographer. Very artfully composed, the photo accentuated Alice’s flawless skin, large striking eyes and high cheekbones. She told me about her career as a print model and actress. She shared her portfolio of black and white images with me. I was fascinated.

It’s been many years since Alice and I met at a Washington Children’s Book Guild meeting in Washington, D.C. and have since participating in several book events in the metropolitan area together. I was excited to include the cover of one of her books Here We Go Round, in the painted mural I created at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial library in dontown Washington in the children’s division.

Towards night fall, Alice showed me her children’s book Way Up and Over Everything, a long-ago story passed on through many generations in her family, and told to her as a child by her great grandmother. The picture book recently received the Junior Library Guild’s Spring 2008 Premier Selection Award. Additionally she told me, the Horn Book just gave Way Up and Over Everything a starred review.

I left Alice’s home that evening feeling so lucky to have shared an evening with such a gifted and spirited friend.

Posted in June, 2008