M. Jennie Frost
Jennie lives in Edmonton. In 2006, her family celebrated their 100th year in this city, for both sets of her grandparents came west from Nova Scotia, PEI and Ontario to settle in Edmonton in 1906. Like her grandmother, Jennie studied Classics — Latin, Greek and Ancient History — at university. She taught Latin for 20 years, full time in Grades 5 to 12 until her three children were born, then part-time in university and adult classes. The world of the ancient Romans and Greeks fascinates her, and she loves their languages.
Jennie first heard a professional storyteller at a Children’s Literature Roundtable meeting and was captivated. She never thought of telling stories herself until the principal of her children’s school invited her to tell stories in a special cross-grade project. She was so elated after the first session she fairly flew out of the school. Sharing stories was such fun — like walking with her listeners into the story world.
Jennie’s first engagement as a professional teller was at the Classical Association of the Canadian West conference banquet in 1996. Since then she has performed in eight provinces for audiences preschool to seniors, in festivals, concerts, conferences, libraries, and schools. Like most working storytellers, she has also helped to produce storytelling events and to run the organizations. For 10 years Jennie served as President and then Treasurer of the Edmonton chapter of TALES (The Alberta League Encouraging Storytelling). She also served for 6 years as Vice President, President and Past President of the national organization Storytellers of Canada—Conteurs du Canada.
In 1995, Jennie began to write stories and poetry. Her prizewinning stories and poems have been published in literary journals and anthologies. In 2002, she wrote a narrative poem about a 15-year-old princess from Greek myth. The story grew much too long to use in storytelling, so she submitted it to a Long Poem Contest. Because it won an Honourable Mention, Mellen Press (New York) published it as a book—The Courtship of Hippodameia. The same year, Jennie received a Canada Council grant to publish a 2-CD audio set — Pygmalion and Other Greek Myths. Now she is working on her first novel.
READINGS / TELLINGS
For audiences of all ages:
When storytelling, Jennie presents a variety of stories appropriate to the age of the audience. Most of her stories are folktales from different cultures, but she often adds in narrative poems, and occasionally, especially for older students and adults, she includes a literary story. Rather than performing set programs, she prefers to consult with her host about the group she’ll encounter and then chooses her stories accordingly. The world’s folktales celebrate human commonalities and cultural diversity simultaneously. Jennie aims to whet her listeners’ appetites for more of this rich heritage. She likes to perform poetry and literary stories so people can enjoy an entertaining and non-analytic experience of literature.
If requested, Jennie is happy to do whole programs of Greek myth or history; of Roman historical legends; of folktales from Britain, Greece, China or India; or of animal stories. For adults and older students (Grades 7 to 12), she offers a program of ghosts and horror. Jennie has participated in weekend-long presentations of epic, so can perform material from Homer’s Iliad, Ovid’s Metamorphoses or the Indian Mahabharata.
Jennie knows that children of different ages need stories of different lengths and content. She is fairly flexible about how she divides her time among different groups. Please talk to her ahead of time about scheduling.
For Students in Grades 6 to 12 or adults:
If Jennie visits as an author, she reads from her stories and/or poems and talks about how she began writing, her writing process and specific skills she’s had to learn. She encourages her listeners to be writers themselves and welcomes questions.
Because of her fascination with language history, Jennie offers an hour’s talk – A Quick History of the English Language – in which she tells the story of how English acquired its huge vocabulary from groups of invaders and invaded peoples over its two millennia of development. She teaches people how to read the etymological section of a dictionary entry and illustrates her talk throughout with stories about quirky words.
For parents, teachers, and librarians:
Jennie offers an hour-long talk – Storytelling: Why and How – in which she discusses why it’s important to engage with children through oral storytelling and suggests ways to get started.
Jennie gives workshops for students in Grades 4 and up, and for adults. (One class or 20 adults.)
Introduction to Oral Storytelling
Living in the Story World: Deepening Characters and Setting
Dazzle and Smoke: Vivid Sensory Detail
Learn to Write the Greek Alphabet
Book List / Discography
"The Laidly Wyrm of Spindlestone Heugh" in Undaunted Enchantments: The Old Faerie Tales As They Were Meant To Be Heard [2-CD audio set] (TALES Edmonton, 2010)
Honourable Mention in the 2002 Mellen Poetry Press Long Poem Contest for “The Courtship of Hippodameia”
Praise for M. Jennie Frost
"You have an exceptional ability to transform words into mental pictures. The students' day was enriched from this experience."
Junior high students can be a very tough audience. Jennie is able to hold their attention and interest with her narrative style, appropriate choices of material, and conveyance of a genuine love of her craft."
"I've heard her tell many stories of many different types and lengths to all kinds of audiences, from small to large and including all age ranges. Palpably the audiences have been intrigued, engrossed."
"I think storytelling is a very interesting thing to do. When I grow up I shall do the same thing myself. What I mostly liked about the story is that it makes your imagination go all over the place."
"The Tinder Box was the best story I have ever heard. I could just imagine the dogs in my head. It felt so real. I would dream about them. It felt so real."
"Jennie is a thoughtful storyteller. She carefully prepares her stories academically and also attends to the art of performance preparation. Her work on the Greek Myths is astounding. She brings the ancient characters to life, involving the audience in their lives as if they were present. Her creative tellings of the stories of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon are riveting. " Mary Hays, President
"Jennie is a seasoned storyteller with years of experience with the Taleblazers Festival, a challenging tour which requires presenters to be versatile, flexible, personable, and have a varied repertoire for a variety of audiences. Jennie’s increasing popularity testifies to her skill in presenting and I would recommend her wholeheartedly to any host or festival."
Touring In: Ontario
Ideal Audience Size
elementary school: 1 – 2 classes; junior high to high school: 1 – 3 classes
Maximum Audience Size
30 for K – 1; 40 – 50 for Grades 2 – 6; 60 for Grades 5 – 6; 75 for junior high/high school
K – 12
A pitcher of water – i.e., lots – preferably room temperature. A microphone for large audiences and for any audience in a gym or any other more or less unenclosed space. If I do a workshop, I'll need a blackboard or a whiteboard, and some workshops may need other special equipment. If I tell my Greek stories, I usually bring my maps, so need somewhere to hang them – if there isn't a clip on the blackboard or a convenient library bookshelf, an easel will do fine.
School Reading Fee$150.00 per presentation
Public Reading Fee$250.00 per presentation (four presentations covered by the Canada Council
Book Week Tour Contact