Monday, February 11, 2008

Storytelling Book Reviews

(Since Blogger isn't wanting to upload my photos tonight, here are some book reviews from one of my past newsletters. I plan to move most of the articles, reviews, stories etc that I've published in the newsletter to my blog so that they're more accessible.)

Riddling Tales Around the World by Marjorie Dundas
University Press of Mississippi, 2002.

ISBN: 1-57806-372-8
(available in hardback and paperback)


Marjorie Dundas was a long-time Storytell listserv member who passed away just before her book was published. Her depth of research and understanding of the needs of the storyteller are evident in this compilation. The tales are well written, with extensive notes (so important in these days of copyright sensitivity). The notes include tale types and motifs. I especially like the way the chapters are divided by topics that could fit well into thematic story programs, and the chapter on riddles in songs and ballads.

Riddle tales can add an interesting layer to a storytelling performance, inviting the audience to discover the truth of the tale, or even become involved in the telling of the story itself. For tellers seeking that something different for a program, this book might provide just the thing.

Hometown Humor by Loyal Jones and Billy Edd Wheeler
August House, 1991.

ISBN: 0-87483-532-1

Okay, maybe you’ve already heard most of these jokes and short funny stories included in this collection. A lot of them have made their way onto the Internet without attribution to their original source. And that’s why I like this book—the source of each tale is given with the story, and many of these folks are not storytellers but ordinary people with an ear for the humorous, and a knack for putting it into just the right words. West Virginia’s own Bonnie Collins is the source of many stories in this collection. This is perfect for the quick browse, and in past days might have been kept in a secure location in the family outhouse—high praise indeed!For the storyteller, there are many retellings of familiar stories, short quips, quotes and riddles perfect for filler material.

Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie, and Folklore in the Literature of Childhood by Jane Yolen. August House, 1981, 2000.
ISBN: 0-87483-591-7

The title is intriguing and the material in this book does it full justice. This is not a collection of stories, but a book about stories and their impact and long-lasting influence on society. Yolen is on a mission to protect and preserve the traditional tales of the world, and in this book she expands on the earlier edition (published in 1981) by offering six new essays that expand her earlier exploration of the value of folk and faerie tales in today’s world.

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