Rounding Out the School Year

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P1050972We finished up our weekly storytelling visits to Estes Hills Elementary School in Chapel Hill and Club Boulevard Humanities Magnet in Durham this week.  What a marvelous time it’s been.  The first graders at Estes Hills were a wonderful audience.  They listened carefully, participated, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the magical journeys we took them on.  In particular they liked the African Anansi stories because “he’s such a trickster.”  Trust children to love mischief!  Brer Rabbit was another favorite for similar reasons.  One of the joys of many folktales is that the underdog, outcast, powerless creature triumphs; children adore this particular metaphor to how they experience life (organized, told what to do, given rules, etc.).  When the powerless character wins, the child listeners feel vindicated.

We told LOTS of stories at these two schools over the course of the year.  Some of them are listed below:

  • Origin of the Hopi (Native North America) – how the Hopi emerged from the underworld to life in this one
  • One Day, One Night (Native North America) – how frog won the shouting contest over bear and others, so that we have one day followed by one night
  • Ox and the Frog (Greece) – how frog tried to make himself as large at ox, with disastrous results
  • Coyote’s Crying Song (Native North America) – when coyote keeps forgetting her song, Little Dove tricks him into biting a rock; coyote howls to this day
  • Anansi and Guinea Fowl (Africa) – Trickster Anansi tries to get Guines Fowl to say “five,” but she’s too smart for him
  • Mother of the Tides (East Africa) – how removing a plug in the bottom of the ocean causes the tides
  • Abiyoyo (Africa) – how a clever boy and his grandfather use a guitar and a magic “disappearing” stick to overcome a ravenous giant
  • Pheasants and the Bell (Korea) – an old woodcutter’s kindness in saving baby birds is repaid when the birds give their lives to save his
  • Fishhook of Maui (New Zealand) – how the culture hero Maui fishes up the island of New Zealand using his grandmother’s magic jawbone for a hook
  • Origin of Fire (Native North America) – coyote enlists the help of friends to steal fire from the monsters guarding it so people can stay warm
  • Senor Coyote and the Dogs (Mexico) – coyote escapes from dogs chasing him until his pride causes his downfall
  • Origin of Shoes (India) – when the king realizes the land is dirty, his advisor must find a way to keep the king’s feet clean
  • Dancing Hyena (Africa) – Rooster uses an mbira to save his wife, Hen, from hungry hyena by making him dance
  • Shark in the Milky Way (Hawaii) – the Milky Way is the remains of a giant shark thrown into the sky by culture hero, Ka-ulu
  • Origin of the Rainbow (Native North America) – people and animals work together to blow spider into the Sky Kingdon to ask Old Man Above to stop the rain
  • Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock (Africa) – Trickster Anansi again tries to get animals to say special words so he can steal their food, but Mouse Deer outwits him.
  • Cat’s Purr (West Indies) – cat accidentally swallows his special drum in anger over his friend rat’s lying
  • Stonecutter (Indonesia) – When the stonecutter wants to be the most powerful creature in the world, he realizes he already is
  • Ice Bear Child (Native North America) – when an old couple asks their polar bear child to hunt for them, their greed is finally their downfall
  • Love Crystal (Vietnam) – a sad story of how love goes awry when it is based on pure fantasy
  • Legend of Knockmany Hill (Ireland) – how Finn Macool defeats the giant Cuchullain by following his wife’s advice
  • Dance for Water (Africa) – how rabbit is caught by a “tar baby” when he steals water during a drought (similar to the Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby story)
  • Anansi and Turtle (Africa) – Anansi won’t share his dinner with Turtle, so Turtle repays him in kind
  • Lizard Loses His Farm (Africa) – Anansi makes a path to Lizard’s garden, claims ownership of it, then gives it back in exchange for a cloak made out of flies
  • Rooster and the Diamond Button (Hungary) – Rooster gets his diamond button back from the Turkish Sultan with the help of his magic stomach
  • Brer Alligator Meets Trouble (African American) – Brer Rabbit tricks Brer Alligator into meeting fire (trouble), charring his skin
  • Why Heron Has a Crooked Neck (Africa) – Jackal bends Heron’s neck in anger of his saving Dove’s babies
  • Peacock and the Puhuy (El Salvador) – Puhuy bird gives Peacock his beautiful feathers so he’ll be king, Peacock won’t give them back
  • Senor Coyote Settles a Quarrel (Mexico) – When Rabbit takes rock off Rattlesnake and then wants to eat Rabbit, Coyote makes them replay the scene until Rattlesnake is again trapped
  • Why Rabbit’s Tail is Short (Native North America) – Rabbit helps Wildcat capture Turkeys, and in revenge, Turkeys bite off Rabbit’s tail
  • Origin of Butterflies (Native North America) – Creator makes butterflies from all the world’s colors, but lets birds keep songs; butterflies are beautiful but silent
  • Origin of Maple Syrup (Native North America) – when people get too lazy eating maple syrup straight from the tree, Gluskabe adds water the trees; we must now work for our syrup
  • Grandfather Bear is Hungry (Russia) – Chipmunk gets his stripes as a reward for feeding Grandfather Bear in the middle of winter
  • It Could Always Be Worse (Jewish) – When a man believes his life is terrible, the rabbi helps him realize that it could be even worse
  • Enormous Turnip (Russia) – the entire family can’t pull out an enormous turnip until they get the help of their animal friends
  • Old One-Eye (North America) – woman outwits a band of robbers with the help of a dried up old fish she calls “Old One-Eye”
  • Young Mouse and the Elephant (Africa) – Mouse believes he is stronger than Elephant, even after being shown otherwise
  • Snow Bunting’s Lullaby (Siberia) – the bird snow bunting must fight to get his song back from crow so that his children will go to sleep
  • Frog’s Hairball (China) – frog escapes tiger by challenging him to – and winning – a vomiting contest
  • Green Gourd (North America) – woman gets thumped by a gourd that she picked too early, learning that ” you never pick a green gourd before it’s time or it’ll witch you sure.”
  • Mother Scorpion Country (Honduras) – Naklili follows wife, Kati, into land of the dead, but cannot be happy there; unhappy alone in land of living, too, so he dies to rejoin his wife

And we got a special thank you from some of those students.