Congratulations to the Story Squad storytellers for competing successfully for performance slots in the upcoming 2015 Durham County Library Storytelling Festival. Our tellers took all four available slots with their storytelling prowess. We’re immensely proud of them all! Please join us and the featured storytellers at the 2015 Celebration of Storytelling, Saturday, March 21st, from 10:00am until 2:00pm in the Main Library at 300 N. Roxboro St. in Durham. It’s free and open to the public.
I just read this quote from an interview with Ginny Moore Kruse about her experience on the Charlotte Zolotow award committee (for the best picture book text). She says: “Experience with language in a wide range of ways makes a huge difference for all babies and preschoolers’ facility with spoken language and with their emergent literacy. To develop to their greatest potential, young children must have opportunities to hear a variety of language patterns and words put together in a variety of ways.” I wonder if she was thinking about Story Squad when she said this????
May your holidays be filled with wonderful stories, of lands far away, magical adventures, and family extravaganzas. Tell stories together….it builds community, shares your beliefs and values, and helps develop our sense of wonder in this incredible world we share. Be safe and have happy times. – Story Squad
Storytellers from Story Squad joined the Estes Hills (Chapel Hill) Elementary School Scholastic Bookfair with the theme of Sir Readalot’s Castle. We shared stories from Hungary, Myanmar, Scotland, and Native America (Lenni Lenape) to a group of 50 school children and their parents. Dueling giants, hiccupping royalty, an angry dragon, and a fearless crow featured in our stories.
The 22nd annual Winter Stories at UNC-Chapel Hill was another rousing success. Children of all ages – and I mean ALL ages – showed up to hear stories, sing songs, eat candy and cookies, drink hot chocolate, and otherwise share time together as part of this wonderful community. The storytellers were “awesome” (to quote one young listener). Mark riddle told a Lenni Lenape tale about how Rainbow Crow helped warm the earth and melt the snow by obtaining fire, but in the process, lost his beautiful singing voice and charred all of his rainbow feathers black; however, if you look closely at a crow’s feathers in the sunlight, they still shimmer with all of the colors of the rainbow, his reward for his bravery and self-sacrifice. Sarah Beth Nelson shared a story about Boreas, the North Wind, and how we desperately wanted to marry Oreithyia, but she wanted nothing to do with him. He showed all of his power as he tried to impress her, but what impressed her the most was when he learned some humility and asked her to marry him, instead of demanding it. After a sing-along interlude, Brian Sturm and Jenny Parks (on Celtic harp) shared a story about the Cailleach, the winter hag of Scotland, and how she ruled over the land from the mountain of Ben Nevis. She captured Springtime and wouldn’t let her marry Summer, but eventually the two found each other and overthrew the Cailleach so warmth could return to the land. But only for a while, for she regains her strength and covers the mountains with her snowy fleece each year, warming people to put on their warm clothes and huddle by their fires until Spring and Summer can return. Amy Sayle then told a Native American Alutiiq story about the Girl Who Married the Moon by being able to keep her eyes closed for the entire journey to the sky world; but once there, she quickly got bored and went exploring. She found people lying face down and peering through holes in the ground with shining masks on their faces (stars), and then she went to the forbidden area of the moon’s home and found his moon masks. When he discovered her, he came to understand that she needed a purpose in the sky world, so the two of them shared the moon’s cycle.
A special thank you to the musicians: Michael Chen (violin), Heather Maneiro (voice), Jenny Parks (Celtic harp), and Emily Vardell (oboe), who delighted the audience with introductory music and sing-along accompaniment. Also a heart-felt thank you to the folks behind the scenes who make this event possible each year: Liza Terll and Tanya Fortner. You two are the best!
The tradition of sharing stories under the starlit skies continued Sunday, with the 5th annual “Storytelling Under the Stars” hosted by the UNC Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and featuring Story Squad. The audience was treated to stories from all over the world, starting in Australia, when Aussie storyteller Mark Riddle shared an Aboriginal folktale of the origin of the Southern Cross. First Man and First Woman were told by Baiame, the Sky God Creator, not to eat animals, but when the drought ruined all the vegetation, First Man speared a kangaroo, letting Death into the world. We then moved to ancient Greece, for two stories, the first about Perseus killing Medusa and rescuing Andromeda from the dreaded monster Cetus; the second about how Zeus wooed Europa in the form of a bull, commemorated by the constellation Taurus and the naming of one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa. We then traveled to Siberia for a story about the origin of the crescent moon (from the remains of a man torn in half in a tug-of-war between the Sun Maiden – who loved him – and Hosiadam, the evil sorceress, who wanted to eat him). At the end of the night, we returned to North America for a Native American tale of how Coyote threw shining stones into the sky randomly, rather than creating his own star picture from them, and now he howls at the sky in sorrow.
The 30th anniversary celebration of Orange County (NC) Literacy Council was a rousing success, with Maple View Farms ice cream, music by Bland Simpson, and stories by Story Squad. Over 250 people attended the 2-hour event. Indeed it was so popular that the organizers ran out of ice cream twice and had to run to Harris Teeter to restock. In the end, everyone had a great time under a gorgeous Carolina-blue sky and perfect temperatures. Storytellers Nan, Pressley, and Mark stole the show with their rousing renditions of folktales from around the world. Nan told a Hungarian folktale about a young boy who learns two magic words that help him marry the princess at the palace; Pressely shared an Argentinian story called, Medio Pollito, about a half-chick whose bravery and persistence win the day, and get him some wheat to take home to his family; and Mark shares a story from Myanmar about a dragon who is rudely awoken from deep slumber when a squirrel drops an acorn on his nose, and he has to trace back the real cause of the problem (rabbit’s twitchy nose).
Once again, Story Squad regaled the seniors at Charles House in Chapel Hill with folktales from around the world. Storytellers Faith, Michael, and Mark took their audience on a reminiscence of childhood, with tales of the Three Little Pigs and Beauty and the Beast, and then they went into uncharted waters with a tale from Myanmar about a sleeping dragon and why the rabbit’s nose twitches. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly.
Story Squad was featured at the 2014 Storytelling Festival of the Crystal Coast in Morehead City, NC. We entertained 300 children from daycares and summer camps with folktales from around the world in the morning at the Crystal Coast Civic Center, and then in the afternoon, we shared tales with about 30 children and their families in the United Methodist church. In conjunction with the NC public library summer reading program, “Fizz, Boom, Read!” we shared stories that helped explain the natural world, answering that oft-asked question, “why?” Why does the water in the ocean rise and fall (because an old woman keeps picking up and putting back into the sea, a huge rock that blocks the ocean’s drain)? Why does coyote howl (because he tried to trick little dove and steal her song, but little dove tricked him into biting a rock, and he lost his teeth and howls because of the pain)? Why is coyote’s tail gray, why does squirrel’s tail arch over his head, why is chipmunk striped, why does frog have no tail, and why can you rub two sticks of the willow tree and get fire (because coyote and his friends stole fire from the Fire Beings and got scorched for their troubles)? Folktales give us an alternate view of the world….they were the stories people told, BEFORE we told the current story of science, in order to explain our world.
Story Squad met with nearly 30 environmental educators, teachers, and government resource people to share ideas about the benefits of storytelling in environmental education. Conversation was lively, as we shared “pourquoi” tales (stories of why things are as they are) from around the world to show how stories, despite not being “factually accurate” by modern scientific standards, are perceptions of the way nature works. Isn’t “science” the same thing…our current story about how nature works? We’re constantly changing this science story as we gain new knowledge, so it’s not “fact.” It’s just our best understanding at the moment. Perhaps that’s what folklore is, too? Our best understanding at that moment. So, while we can’t necessarily teach science with folktales, we CAN offer children a vibrant new perspective on their world with these stories, and they can introduce basic STEM concepts that will help children look at their world with new eyes and deeper vision!