Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hot Fun in the City...

Today was another fun, if HOT storytelling day! The temperature was over 90 degrees, that steamy kind of day when the heat hangs heavy in the air. My venue was outside at the beautiful New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park Visitor Center. The city has lovingly restored an old bank, circa 1853, pictured here, connecting it with another building, while maintaining the architectural integrity of both.

There is a delightful garden in between the two buildings, which is where I told today. They love to offer programming in the garden during the summer so locals and tourists who are passing by will be intrigued and stop to stay for a bit. The director was kind enough to have a small pop up tent, the kind used at art fairs, to offer me a bit of shade for the two shows. Yet, even the ocean breeze that wound its way up the main street from time to time offered no respite. Due to the oppressive heat we didn't expect a huge turnout and indeed the audiences were small, but very appreciative.

I told stories of mermaids, whales, and a magic fish to name a few, and we even did a boogie woogie fish dance!


Have you ever been a fishing
Have you ever been a-fishing on a hot summer day,
And seen all the little fishies swimming up and down the bay,
With their hands in their pockets and their pockets in their pants
And all the little fishies doin’ the hootchie kootchie dance.

With their hands in their pockets and their pockets in their pants.
All the little fishies doin’ the hootchie kootchie dance. (I changed this to boogie woogie dance)

For the complete song go to:

Here is a lovely version of the Magic Fish from Old Peter's Russian Tales...


"Long ago, near the shore of the blue sea, an old man lived with his old woman in a little old hut made of earth and moss and logs. They never had a rouble to spend. A rouble! they never had a kopeck. They just lived there in the little hut, and the old man caught fish out of the sea in his old net, and the old woman cooked the fish; and so they lived, poorly enough in summer and worse in winter. Sometimes they had a few fish to sell, but not often.

In the summer evenings they sat outside their hut on a broken old bench, and the old man mended the holes in his ragged old net. There were holes in it a hare could jump through with his ears standing, let alone one of those little fishes that live in the sea. The old woman sat on the bench beside him, and patched his trousers and complained.

Well, one day the old man went fishing, as he always did. All day long he fished, and caught nothing. And then in the evening, when he was thinking he might as well give up and go home, he threw his net for the last time, and when he came to pull it in he began to think he had caught an island instead of a haul of fish, and a strong and lively island at that—the net was so heavy and pulled so hard against his feeble old arms.

"This time," says he, "I have caught a hundred fish at least."
Not a bit of it. The net came in as heavy as if it were full of fighting fish, but empty ——.

"Empty?" said Maroosia.

"Well, not quite empty," said old Peter, and went on with his tale...."

For the rest of the story go to

Afterwards, a light lunch in one of my favorite downtown restaurants was in order, with a tall glass of ice water and lemon on one side, and a cool gin and tonic on the other. The evening found me at a friend's birthday party. The night air rearranged the heat of the day and kept everyone comfortably warm as we played lawn games, ate delicious food, laughed and talked around the chimenea until the full moon turned red in the sky. Good friends, good food and eager ears to listen to a few good stories; a day well-spent indeed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

From A-Z Folklore, Fairytales, Myths and Legends From Around the World

There is a wealth of public domain stories available on the Internet. Part of my work is writing a research column for the national Storytelling Magazine, a member benefit of the National Storytelling Network. I research and evaluate web sites specific to the art of Oral Tradition and write short synopses to accompany them.

Permission for private use of this compilation is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without written permission. For permission please contact me at

From time to time I will add some storytelling sites to my blog to help folks find their way down the cyber highway. Here are a few to whet your appetite; I hope you find them useful. If you would like to read more go to my Storytelling Links page at

Absolutely Whootie: Stories to Grow By
Multicultural folktales searchable by continent and country; free writing assignments and play scripts as well.

The AFRO-American Almanac
An extensive list of folktales, biographical and historical information, as well as excerpts from literary works.

Jack Tales, poetry, authors, study guides and lesson plans, bibliographies and an index categorized by genre. The entire site is focused on Appalachian Literature.

American Folklore
Take an armchair journey with folktales, myths, legends, Tall Tales and ghost stories from the 50 United States. Tales are clearly indexed so you won’t even need to ask for directions.

Andrew Lang ~ The Literature Network
There isn’t a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, but a prism of fairytale books to add to your riches.

Arabian Nights
Let Scheherazade lead you through the ancient and mysterious world of Ali Baba and Sinbad; fall under the spell of a 1001 nights.

The Baldwin Project
The Baldwin Project is a virtual page turner, a comprehensive collection of literature in the public domain. Read tales from as far back as 1880. The works of such luminaries as Padraic Colum, Howard Pyle, Andrew Lang, and James Baldwin will light your way.

The Electronic Text Center - University of Virginia Library
Browse by culture: English, French, German, Spanish, Latin, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Apache, Greek, Hebrew, Tibetan, Icelandic, Italian and Portuguese.

The Encyclopedia of Hotcâk (Winnebago) Mythology
The most comprehensive site I have found on Native American folktales. There is an extensive index of stories by subject matter, myths, maps, and legends.

A Flowering Tree and Other Oral Tales from India
The entire book by A. K. Ramanujan is online for generations to read, relish and enjoy.

Folklore and Mythology
By far one of the most comprehensive sites on folklore and mythology from around the world. The tales are numerous and grouped alphabetically by genre. There is also another link to Germanic folklore. This is a jewel of a site, one you will visit again and again.

H-NILAS: "Stories for the Seasons"
An excellent array of seasonal stories. From forest to frogs, moons to maidens, storyteller Cathy Mosley offers us her folktale adaptations from around the world.

Irish Studies
All things Irish; weddings, wakes, tales, music, song, Gaelic and more. Slainte!

Learning to Give
Be sure to bookmark this fabulous site! Lesson plans, complementary folktales, and parent resources to involve students in philanthropy and serving their communities.

Mysterious Britain
Banshees, Black Dogs and Bessie Dunlop are but a few of the folktales and legends from England, Wales and Scotland. Visit with faeries, selkies, dragons and giants but beware, don’t stay tarry too long in one of the haunted castles.

Mything Links
An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Traditions. Fairies and dragons, creation stories and star lore, there is more information here than you could ever hope to digest.

Nasreddin Hodja
Filled with information and stories about the beloved character of Turkish tales, this website is also a portal to many other Hodja sites.

Norwegian Folk Tales
Twenty-four folktales to warm our hearts through the winter.

Russian Tales
Many delightful tales from Russia and the Ukraine and details on Russian traditions from Christmas to weddings.

Sacred Text Archives
Explore the world through this amazing collection of texts on religion, mythology, legends, folklore, and more.

Spirit of Trees
Cristy West’s growing website offers curricular resources, essays, organizational links, poetry and folktales from some of our leading storytellers and scholars. Rest in the cool shade of its branches and let the spirit of the trees nourish your soul.

Story Lovers
Storyteller Jackie Baldwin designs notepads, stationery and more with breathtaking fairytale and folklore illustrations from long ago. In addition, with the help of Storytell listserv members, Jackie has compiled an extensive array of stories and books. Click on “Exclusively for Storytellers” and you will discover your own private folklore library right at your fingertips.

SurLaLune Fairy Tales
Stories and the history behind the tales, cross cultural references, extensive individual bibliographies and modern interpretations. The SurLaLane pages are an incredible resource for storytellers, librarians and teachers.

Tibetan Folktales
Twenty tales from the ancient country of Tibet; search for Missing Treasure, beware the Island of Beautiful Women and meet Tibet’s first king.

There are more trickster links here than you could possible hope to surf in one sitting; anything and everything related to the elusive trickster. I kid you not!

Zen Stories
Over fifty stories in the Zen tradition. "This web site is a collection of stories from the Orient, mostly Zen and Taoist tales. Think of these tales as conversation pieces, as handy tools that you can lift out of your pocket to help you and others talk, think, and laugh about the wondrous and mysterious details of this thing we call life."

Zine 5 Folktale Archives
Hidden among the pages of this magazine publication is a distinctive selection of characteristic folktales from six continents.

Fairytales, Folktales and Fun!

On Tuesday night I gave a storytelling performance, A Treasure Chest of Fairytales and Folktales at a library an hour and a half away from home. The following afternoon, I had another show two hours away from there and two hours from home so it made sense so stay overnight at a hotel and just drive to the second venue in the morning.

Both librarians were lovely. The evening performance offered a small audience, only four children but if I could clone these four young ladies and place them in my pocket for every venue I will ever have I would! They were beyond delightful, participating, laughing, sharing; they love to read and hear stories! The librarian apologized for the small turnout but mused that the last week or so had been very slow and felt many were on vacation. I assured her no apology was necessary. When you have an audience such as those girls, you can't help but have fun!

The second venue was full of animal tales from around the world, a show I call Jaws, Claws and Paws. This librarian also knew how to take care of her performers. She made fantastic posters announcing the venue, placed publicity in the paper, connected with local summer programs, told me she would hold the audience outside the telling space until I told her I was ready. She understood that tellers need time to step into their story space, told everyone to silence their cell phones, and even had a teenage helper to assist with crowd control. Both the librarian and the young lady were a dream come true and the audience as well, about a hundred folks were in attendance ready to have fun!

At this show there was an adorable little girl, about five years old in the audience. She came in a pink sundress and pink rain boots! Too cute. She sat right on the floor, first row, just to the left of me and was so very attentive.

As part of my intro to the story of Tiddalick the First Frog I asked the children if they knew what the land down under was called, where the kangaroos live. (I added that last part since last time when I only asked the first part a child loudly called out, HELL! :) As I began the story the child jumped up, ran over to her father, grabbed her library book and ran right up to me, thrusting out the book for me to see. I looked down to read the title, _The Land Down Under_. She was so pleased with herself! She certainly didn't disturb me or the flow of the story. Those moments are delightful!

Tomorrow is another day filled with storytelling, Tales With Scales - Fish Stories From Around the World. Who knows what stories the audience will share with me!