Ossiri and the Bala Mengro



By Richard O’Neill & Katharine Quarmby Illustrated by Hannah Tolson Published by Child’s Play-International ISBN-13: 9781846439254 Age Range: 4 – 9 Years

A Traveller girl creates her own musical instrument from a willow branch and lots of recycled objects. She plays it enthusiastically, but it sounds terrible! Ignoring warnings not to awaken the ogre in the hills, Ossiri goes there to practice playing her instrument. Will she wake the ogre, and will it appreciate her playing? Told by a Romani storyteller and a picture book author, this original tale offers a fascinating insight into Travelling lifestyles and cultures.

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Make an Instrument for an Ogre

Recycle and Reuse Like Ossiri


Richard O’Neill was born and brought up in a large traditional Romany family in the North of England. He is an award-winning storyteller and writer who tells his original stories in schools, museums, libraries and theatres throughout the United Kingdom. A sixth generation storyteller, he grew up in a vigorous oral storytelling tradition, learning his skills from some of the best Travelling storytellers in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Richard is the author of eleven children’s books and his stories and plays have been broadcast on BBC Radio. His digital stories have been enjoyed throughout the world. He was the recipient of the ‘National Literacy Hero’ award. Katharine Quarmby is a writer, journalist and a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the London School of Economics. She has written both for children and adults. Her first book for children, Fussy Freya and the Fabulous Feast, was published in 2008. Her first non-fiction book, Scapegoat: why we are failing disabled people (Portobello Press, 2011), won a prestigious international award, the Ability Media Literature award. Her second non-fiction book, on Gypsies, Roma and Travellers, No Place to Call Home: Inside the Real Lives of Gypsies and Travellers, was published by Oneworld in 2013. Hannah Tolson was born and raised in a small town near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Having studied at Leeds College of Art, she then moved to Falmouth, Cornwall where she gained a first class honours in Illustration in 2013. She continues to live and work there, making pictures from her little desk.