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Recent Storytelling Titles

April, 1997, by Janice del Negro

Editor, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (BCCB)

Not that we need an excuse, but April is, among other things, folk and fairy tale month, and the following is a selection of recent titles havingto do with storytelling. They include:

  • how-to books for adults
  • how-to books for kids, and
  • resources for the storyteller, including several collections of traditional tales.
The how-to books were chosen for the uniqueness of their approach to the art and craft of storytelling; the collections were chosen for the high quality of their retellings and their excellent source notes. Other titles were selected because they havea high usefulness quotient, as they include practical suggestions for the practicing storyteller. We hope they will delight and intrigue you, and provide inspiration for you to go forth and tell some stories.
  • Aldana, Patricia, comp. Jade and Iron: Latin American Tales from Two Cultures. Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 1996. "These fourteen tales from Latin America are a complex and rewarding combination of elements with a remarkably strong cultural subtext." (BCCB1/97) A comparison of the narrative tone for pre- and post- conquest stories is time well-spent. Origin tales, supernatural tales, and trickster tales are included; brief source notes are also given.
  • Baltuck, Naomi Apples from Heaven. Linnet, 1995. A collection of thirty-one folktales from around the world about stories and storytellers, with a proverb introducing each one. This is a fine selection of tales in a nicely designed volume, and Baltuck's source notes are terrific. (See also her fine story stretcher title, Crazy Gibberish.)
  • Birch, Carol and Melissa Heckler Who Says? August House,1996. If you're looking for food for thought (and some lively discussion fodder) take a look at this one: a collection of ten essays on "pivotal issues in contemporary storytelling" it includes Bill Harley on the fourth wall, Rafe Martin on the reciprocity of storytelling, Carol Birch on the storyteller as narrator, and Barre Toelken on common misconceptions about folktales. Most essays include notes and references.
  • Bruchac, Joseph Tell Me A Tale: A Book About Storytelling. Harcourt,1997. Bruchac divides storytelling into four parts: listening, observing, remembering, and sharing; each part is given a chapter-long exposition, including sample stories from around the world. This semi-autobiographical, how-to book is aimed at young would-be storytellers, and uses an easy, conversational approach to the storytelling dynamic. A short list of additional resources is appended.
  • Dailey, Sheila Putting the World in a Nutshell: The Art ofthe Formula Tale. H.W. Wilson,1994. Just in case you haven't seen it, this is a dandy title on the structure and delivery of formula tales, including the chain, the cumulative, the circle, the endless, the catch, the compound, the question, "air castles" and "good/bad." Dailey includes hints for learning formula tales, followed by a chapter on each type with sample stories, notes, and variants. An extensive bibliography for further research is also included.
  • Forest, Heather Wisdom Tales from Around the World. August House,1996. "Jataka tales from India, Zen tales from Japan, and Sufi tales from the Middle East are just a few of the attractions in this collection of fifty tales." (BCCB2/97) The theme of the collection is wisdom, and Forest balances beautifully on the fine line between humor and irony. Succinct, straightforward, and well-organized, the book includes a list of proverbsfrom around the world, and Forest's usual (but still highly appreciated) extensive source notes. (An equally fine title is Forest's Wonder Talesfrom Around the World, August House, 1995.)
  • Hamilton, Martha, and Mitch Weiss Stories in My Pocket: Tales Kids Can Tell. Fulcrum, 1996. "The first twenty-one pages of this title handily guides readers through the storytelling process, from choosing a story to tell, to learning the story, to actually telling." (BCCB 3/97) The remainder of the book is devoted to thirty (mostly traditional) stories: divided into two columns, the text of the stories is on the left, with emphasized words in bold; the right hand column coaches the would-be teller with suggestions for verbal presentation and physical gestures. Bibliography, source notes, and an index are included.
  • Hayes, Joe Here Comes the Storyteller. Cinco Puntos Press, 1996. Retelling nine accessible, mostly traditional tales from the American Southwest, Hayes takes a concrete, visual approach in this "photo-tutorial". (BCCB 3/97) The text of the tales is supplemented with Hayes' explanations and suggestions in bold typeface set in gray sidebars on the left, and each double page spread is replete with black and white photographs of the remarkably expressive Hayes and his participating audience members. Several of the stories are bilingual (English/Spanish) and tips for bilingual storytelling are included.
  • Holt, David and Bill Mooney The Storyteller's Guide. AugustHouse, 1996. In this interview style entry in the how-to-tell genre (BCCB 11/96) each chapter is organized around a question-How do I find the right stories? What makes a story strong? How do I handle stage fright? etc.-followed by the answers of prominent American storytellers such as Connie Regan-Blake, Elizabeth Ellis, Syd Lieberman, Bobby Norfolk, Jay O'Callahan, Gayle Ross, Jackie Torrence, Diane Wolkstein, and others. Storytelling issues as well as "how to" suggestions are covered in sections on copyright and fair use, ethics, audio recording, censorship, etc. This is a gem whether you are doing in-depth research or just browsing.
  • MacDonald, Margaret Read The Parent's Guide to Storytelling. HarperCollins, 1995. MacDonald turns her experienced eye toward parents, briefly explaining the how and why of storytelling for children. Adult caregivers will welcome this simple, easy approach to tale telling, which includes sample stories for the youngest ("The Three Bears", "The Little Red Hen," etc.), easy-to-tell folktales ("Cheese and Crackers", "The Strongest One of All,"etc.), and chapters on telling family stories and original stories. A bibliography, tale notes and sources, and an index are included.
  • Pellowski, Anne The Storytelling Handbook. Simon & Schuster, 1995. The subtitle of this book pretty much tells it all: "A Young People's Collection of Unusual Tales and Helpful Hints on How to Tell Them."Pellowksi (author of The World of Storytelling, Bowker, 199-, 2nd. ed.) puts her hand to a how-to book for young storytellers, and the result is a solid general overview of storytelling, tale types, and techniques forlearning and telling stories. Twenty-three stories for telling are followed by a bibliography, source notes, and an index.
  • Sierra, Judy Nursery Tales Around the World. Clarion, 1996. Don't overlook this collection because it has the word "nursery" in the title: this is a fine source for traditional tales to tell to young children, preschoolers through primary graders. Six chapters (Runaway Cookies, Incredible Appetites, The Victory of the Smallest, Chain Tales,Slowpokes and Speedsters, and Fooling the Big Bad Wolf) each include three cultural variations on the chapter theme. Sierra introduces each section, and concludes with source notes on the retellings and a bibliography.
  • Sierra Judy The Storyteller's Research Guide: Folktales, Myths, and Legends. Folkprint, 1996. This is a must for serious storytellers, whether just beginning or still learning. Sierra includes chapters on research basics, what makes a tellable tale, tracking down tales, fieldwork, and copyright for storytellers, in a well-organized package and in lucid, eminently understandable language. Notes and resources for each chapter and an index are included.

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books:
The Bulletin Dozens are theme-based lists of titles gathered monthly by our staff. Please feel free to copy or download these lists. We ask only that you note the source.

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