Saturday, April 2, 2011

Wordle - Patterns of Prose

I was researching tonight for my upcoming workshop, Enhance Your Online Presence - Blog It Baby! at the Northlands Storytelling Conference and found this fun tool. I spent way too much time playing around with it  but the above is an example of my first wordle, a tool for generating word clouds.  This one was very easy. All I had to do was input the URL for my blog and voila, the above was generated, using words from my blog posts.

I've always wondered how others managed to do these designs when I've found them on other websites or blogs and now I know. I can think of many ways to use this tool and I am sure you will too. If you want to have some fun as well go to . But make sure you do it when you aren't in a rush because you won't want to walk away too quickly once you fall down this rabbit hole!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trickster Tales - Skipping Across the Continents

The trickster figure Reynard the Fox 
by Michel Rodance, 1869

April, the month for tricksters, jokers and fools is just a few hours away. Here in Massachusetts, it seems the tricksters are getting an early start because snow is predicted for tomorrow! But we are a hardy bunch in New England, and we won’t let a few snowflakes spoil our fun.

As with all stories trickster tales travel from culture to culture, shape shifting as they skip across the continents. The trickster might be a fox in Japan, mouse deer in Asia, a coyote or raven among the Native Americans, or a spider in West Africa just to name a few.

“As their name suggests, tricksters love to play tricks on other gods (and sometimes on humans and animals). But perhaps the best definition of a trickster is the one given by Lewis Hyde: "trickster is a boundary-crosser.” By that, he means that the trickster crosses both physical and social boundaries-- the trickster is often a traveller, and he often breaks societal rules… The trickster often changes shape (turning into an animal, for example) to cross between worlds. In his role as boundary-crosser, the trickster sometimes becomes the messenger of the gods…John Lame Deer said, tricksters "are sacred [because] we Indians also need their laughter to survive.”

So here’s to the tricksters, whether fox, raven or mouse, who have added so many stories and laughter to our lives!


Br’er Rabbit

Jamaica Anansi Stories

The Monkey’s Heart
Native American Tricksters of Myth and Legend
Trickster Wives and Maids

The Trickster: The Hlakanyana and Huveane – Bantu Folktales

The Trickster Tricked

Tricksters From Around the World 

Fools, Tricksters, Festivals and Spring – My blog post from April 2009 with some additional links for trickster tales.


African and Native American Trickster Folktales by Jennifer Smith

Around the World with Tricksters – Short article with a helpful bibliography at the end. 


Fools and Tricksters – Bibliography by Carol Hurst

Folktales of Joha, Jewish Trickster by Matilda Koén-Sarano

Trickster Tales from Around the World – A selection of children’s books focusing on trickster tales.

Trickster Tales by Josepha Sherman

Takoma Park Library – Wonderful bibliography of Trickster Tales, including Raven, Coyote, Anansi and more. 


Aesop and Ananse – Animal Fables and Trickster Tales

Fable and Trickster Tales From Around the World

The Trickster Around the World 
Original link no longer valid but you may still access the information via the Wayback Machine here:


Rabbit Paper Bag Puppet

Raven the Trickster

Spider Windsock

In my work with the Massachusetts Humanities Council FAIR program one book we shared last year was Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock. I designed the word search below as a take away for the children. Feel free to copy and paste into a word document and use it in your work. If the copy and paste does not work properly email me at and I will send it along as an attachment.

This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.

Please note, websites change at a rapid pace and weblinks may change or break without notice. I cannot be responsible for redirected or broken links.  At the time of this posting all links were in working order. Thank you for understanding,                                                                                                                       
Karen Chace 2011 ©

Monday, March 28, 2011

World Book Day - What Would You Have Missed?

This video was posted by the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) to mark World Book Day on March 3, 2011. Yes, it is a bit late in the month but the video is well worth watching. I recognized the book related to the image in the closet immediately. I wonder how many children today would as well.

The RNIB requested that people list the favorite childhood books they would have missed if they were unable to see. Their campaign seeks to highlight the acute shortage of books accessible to blind and partially sighted people, especially children.

The asked everyone to consider "What would you have missed out on if you weren't able to enter the magical world of children's stories?"  I can't imagine a world without books. Can you?

I would have missed:
Little Women
The Little Prince
Alice in Wonderland
Pippi Longstocking
and the hundreds of other books I have read since I was a child. What magical stories would you have missed?

Speak Up, Speak Out - massmouth semi-finals

Lady Clare by
Elizabeth Siddal, 1857

'I'm a beggar born,' she said,
'I will speak out, for I dare not lie.
Pull off, pull off the brooch of gold And fling the diamond necklace by.'

'Nay now, my child,' said Alice the nurse,
'But keep the secret all ye can.'
She said, 'Not so; but I will know
If there be any faith in man."

From Lady Clare by Lord Alfred Tenneson

Because you have a life, you have a story! Massmouth’s tagline is the perfect appetizer to entice even the shyest to step on the stage and tell their tale. The venues are packed with people of all ages and storytelling experience, eager for listeners to hear a moment from their lives. These slams are not just about entertainment; they are personal connections in a world filled with technological devices that keep us a keyboards length away from making eye contact.

On Thursday, April 14th, the winners from these slams will each tell their stories - live, no notes, props, or music or at the Coolidge Corner Cinema in Brookline, MA, starting at 7:00 PM. I will share the stage with a dairy farmer, a retired kindergarten teacher, a NPR radio producer, a marketing manager, a full time theater student, writers and a few professional storytellers.

Semi-finals of massmouth’s Greater Boston Story slam series…20 stories, 20 storytellers from all walks of life - in a benefit performance for massmouth’s StoriesLive®, the first, high school scholarship storytelling project at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline Massachusetts.

It will be an exciting evening, filled with laughter, poignancy, and camaraderie. The chance to tell in the semi-finals of this prestigious event is reward enough but I would be thrilled to move on to the finals. And of course, what storyteller wouldn’t want to win the BIG MOUTHOFF!

For tickets go to: . Profits from ticket sales will go toward the scholarship fund for Stories Live®, massmouth’s initiative which is supported, in part, by a grant and other funding. To learn more about the 2nd season of massmouth story slams go to their blog at