Cresp, Gael 1954-

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Cresp, Gael 1954-


Born April 2, 1954, in Benalla, Australia; daughter of Edward Thomas (a "fitter and turner") and Roma Carmel (a homemaker) Cresp; married Stephen John Wilbourne (a computer consultant), May 10, 1975; children: Emily Jane, Elizabeth Alice, Rebecca Elana. Ethnicity: "Australian." Education: Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (now RMIT University), B.S., 1975; Chisholm Institute (now Monash University), graduate diploma, 1982; Frankston Technical and Further Education, certificate in writing, 1990; Holmesglen Technical and Further Education, certificate in workplace training, 1999.


Home—Malvern East, Victoria, Australia. E-mail—[email protected].


Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia, librarian, 1994-2000; Lantana Systems Pty. Ltd., Malvern, Victoria, Australia, principal, 2000—. Professional storyteller, 1984—; presenter of storytelling workshops in Australia and elsewhere.


Storytelling Guild of Australia (president of Victoria branch, 1998-2000).


The Biography of Gilbert Alexander Pig (juvenile), illustrated by David Cox, Benchmark/Cygnet (Melbourne, Australia), 1999, published as The Tale of Gilbert Alexander Pig, Barefoot Books (Cambridge, MA), 2000.

Fish for Breakfast, illustrated by Anna Pignataro, Windy Hollow (Melbourne, Australia), 2002.


Gael Cresp once told CA: "I have been a professional storyteller since 1984, although my father says I have been telling stories all my life. I have three children and more than twenty grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. I grew up in Seaford, a bayside suburb forty kilometers south of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. I am the second eldest of ten children, and that is why I have so many nieces and nephews!

"I use my own stories and poems in performance and undertake considerable research prior to adapting traditional stories for telling. I do not always know why I tell a particular story or adapt it in a particular way, although some years down the track I can usually come up with a good explanation (that is, story!) about what it means.

"I work four days a week at a university library in Hawthorn, near Melbourne. I go around the library reminding people that they promised to carry out certain jobs before the next meeting. When they say that someone else has to do something first, I go to that person and find out what is stopping him or her from completing the task. I am often referred to as a third person, and occasionally a fourth. Sometimes I feel like the old woman in the story of the pig who would not jump over the stile!

"Regarding The Biography of Gilbert Alexander Pig, I was prompted to tell the traditional story of the three little pigs from a contemporary perspective by the need to make the story relevant to people today. Once I began to use a black trumpet-playing pig, a modern setting followed logically.

"Traditional stories have information in them that will assist us in making decisions about our lives. When we are confronted with the need to make our own way in the world, we have some choices to make. The message I took from the traditional version of the story as a child was that there was no place for fun and games. I must work hard, build on strong foundations, and lock myself in (to a secure job and a proper house) if I were to be happy and successful. The story of Gilbert Alexander Pig began as a joke to poke fun at this idea and to suggest that there are, indeed, alternatives.

"I hope that every child or adult that comes to this story has heard the traditional tale of the three little pigs and notices and comments on the differences between the two tales. Any awareness or consideration of the alternatives that Gilbert Alexander Pig presents means my job has been well done. I would like people to admire Gilbert's courage, his tenacity, his athletic prowess, and his ability to negotiate. I would like them to admire the wolf because he finally listens and so actually gains friendship and a wonderful skill. I would like readers and listeners to be encouraged and empowered to make similar changes to the patterns of their lives. Most of all, I would like people to enjoy the story, to laugh at the dialogue and the illustrations, and to find the images and the story dancing in their minds long after the book is closed.

"The character of Gilbert Alexander Pig was inspired by the life of my friend, jazz trumpeter Gil Askey. To be a professional musician, even today, requires one to live differently than the majority of people. To play jazz on a trumpet is also to work on the edge of the music world (where string instruments and classical music are seen as the peak area). For Gil to do both of these things through the sixties and seventies was incredibly brave.

"The most remarkable thing about Gil is his lack of resentment and bitterness about the appalling treatment he and other black people received over the years. He has used his enormous talent to reach out to all kinds of people, to offer them a path into his joy in music and music-making. Gil has done a remarkable job of encouraging children—especially teenage boys—to undertake the difficult task of learning an instrument. The discipline to practice and the need to be cooperative in a band or orchestra are enormously valuable lessons to learn.

"I felt that Gil recognized that a lot of the resentment and violence offered to those who are different (black, ‘arty’) comes from fear and jealousy. His philosophy seems to be: ‘Offer to share and to teach people, and they will become your friends.’"

Recently Cresp added: "I now work four days a week in a computer consultancy where I do office work and write in between phone calls.

"The story of Fish for Breakfast was inspired by the loss of a sun hat and the presence of a large number of eagles in a national park around an extinct volcano crater."