27th Winter Stories a Success

Winter Stories 2019 was a huge success! Thanks to the Friends of the UNC Libraries for sponsoring the event and for making it special, with hot chocolate (I’ll have to share the Mayan story of the origin of hot chocolate sometime) and goodies for all to eat. We had nearly a full house, and the children were really attentive listeners (thank you parents)! Thanks also to all the adults who came to enjoy the evening.  Our five storytellers enchanted the audience with literary tales and folktales from around the world; thanks to them for their preparation and expertise. The whole evening was simply delightful!



Newly minted storytellers

Story Squad is thrilled to have a new group of storytellers joining our ranks, having completed the INLS 558 Principles and Techniques of Storytelling class. They have told folktales, urban legends, and even a few personal stories during their semester’s work, and they’ve explored the power of emotional vulnerability in performance (not always fun, but well worth the effort).  Welcome, storytellers!

Winter Stories 2019 (coming December 5th)

Please join us for the 27th annual Winter Stories tradition of storytelling, candy, and hot chocolate on Thursday, December 5th in the Pleasants Room of Wilson Library. Refreshments will be served starting at 5:00pm, and the storytelling and singalong will run from 5:30-6:30.  We hope to see you there!

Another Success

Storytelling Under the Stars was another hit this year, with about 100 people buying tickets to listen to folklore about the heavens. Dr. Brian told a Brazilian story of how the daughter of the Great Snake came to live on the land after marrying a human. She missed the darkness of the deep ocean (and the sleep that came with it), so her new husband sent three servants to get night from the ocean. The Great Snake sealed it in a coconut, saying, “Do not open it, for only my daughter is strong enough to control the night spirits inside.” The servants open it as soon as they are back on land, curious about the hoots, howls, and squeaks that are coming from inside, so night (and all the night creatures) flood the land. The daughter welcomes them, and they go silent, and everyone sleeps. The next morning, the daughter gives three gifts to the world: 1) the Morning Star to signal the end of night, 2) the cockcrow to signal the coming of day, and 3) the most beautiful singing of the birds just at dawn. Hank told a Navajo story about how coyote really wants to help place the stars in the sky, but the gods won’t let him help. He whines and wheedles and then finally in a fit, he grabs the bag of stars from Black God, and they are flung across the sky randomly. He does get to place one final star that is the Wandering Star or Coyote Star. Alexandra then told a Japanese story of the bamboo cutter who finds a tiny child in a piece of bamboo he cuts open. He raises her, and she grows into a radiant young woman. Many court her, but she refuses them all, even the emperor. Finally, the Star People descend and take her back to the sky. They had placed her on earth to learn compassion. She is still seen (and she still watches over us) as the face in the moon. JC finished the storytelling with the Siberian tale of how the sun was stolen by demons. Great Snowy Owl calls a council of animals to see who would try to rescue it. Bear get sidetracked by delicious berries, and Wolf fails when distracted by the howling call of relatives. Rabbit, rescues the sun and kicks it back into the sky to light the world for all. Amy Sayle then guided the audience on a journey through the universe, always a special (and humbling) treat.

Thanks to Amy Sayle and the Morehead Planetarium for continuing to sponsor this event.  We’re in our 10th year!  And way to go, Story Squad storytellers.

Story Squad Director to Participate in Old North State Storytelling Festival

Brian Sturm will join nationally featured storytellers, Donald Davis, Donna Washington, and Michael Reno Harrell, for the Old North State Storytelling Festival in Cary, NC. The festival features four concerts:

Friday, November 1st at 7:00pm

Saturday, November 2nd at 10:00am, 1:30pm, and 7:00pm.

Admission is $15/concert or $50 for a four-concert pass and can be purchased at The Cary Theater box office or eTix.com

UNC Hospital School Visits Begin for Another Year

Our collaboration with the UNC Hospital School to share stories once a month with children in the hospital is moving into its third year!  What a marvelous way to help children imagine new horizons by telling world folktales in this school, and when the children cannot make it to the schoolroom, we bring the stories to their bedside. Sometimes we cannot compete with their tablets or television programs, but often the children take a break from those forms of entertainment to be enchanted by a told story.  And sometimes our competition is not as steep. We had one young fellow recently who responded to the offer of hearing a story with a HUGE smile and real gusto.  “I really like your stories,” he explained, “but I’m in the middle of math homework, and I’d LOVE a break from that!”  Needless to say, he was an attentive listener for both reasons. A joy shared is a joy doubled!

Story Writing Contest Launch

Story Squad was asked to launch the West Regional Library (Cary) Story Writing Contest for 2nd-6th graders. Dr. Brian led the 25 children and their parents in a conversation about what makes a good story, where do you find inspiration for stories, and what writing techniques can be learned from storytelling, and then he performed an Aesop fable showcasing how you can take a minimal, four-sentence fable and “flesh it out” into a fully formed performance. We can’t wait to see the stories these creative, dynamic, and engaged young people come up with!

Story Squad joins the Northside Elementary Read-a-thon

Story Squad was invited back to the Northside Elementary School Read-a-thon for third annual visit. Director, Brian Sturm shared folktales from several countries, including an Anansi story from Africa (though not the ones from the books he’s holding in the photo). We piled in the entire second grade.  After the stories, the children got to ask questions, and Ms. Cole, the school librarian and Read-a-thon coordinator set the boundary that they could NOT ask the storyteller’s age.  So the questions started coming in: “What’s your favorite story?” “What’s your favorite planet?” (the image behind Dr. Sturm shows their current unit) “What’s your favorite book character?” and then a really hard one, “What’s your favorite quote?”  As the questions wound down, one child wanted to ask a final question…and, of course, it was “How old are you?”  Children are such treasures!  It’s wonderful to see them push boundaries (especially when it’s gently).