Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jump Tales for Halloween

I mentioned "jump tales" in my last post, with a quick explanation of what the term means. Most of us have been the target of such a story--the kind that end with a boo, a scream, or a "gotcha!"

There are several traditional folktale jump stories that are excellent for telling at this time or year, or around a campfire in any season.

Here are some of the ones I like best. There are many variations to these stories, so what you find online may not be the same story you remember, and may not be exactly like my synopsis below or the way I tell the story, but you can find more versions at your library or bookstore:

Tailypo: an old man who lives alone in a cabin in the woods with his three dogs cuts off the tail of an unusual creature. The creature returns again and again for its tail, and with each appearance another dog disappears, until finally it is just the old man and the creature. Who wins? (For book titles and other information, visit the Applit site . To read a version by my friend and fellow storyteller Marilyn Kinsella, go here.)

Big Hairy Toe: someone digs up a big hairy toe in their garden. They take it home, and...you guessed it...the owner of the toe follows them home, moaning, "who's got my great big hairy toe?" Does the creature regain its toe? (find out in this online version of the story.)

Coming to Get Your Liver: little Johnny is scared to go to bed alone. Then he hears a very spooky voice saying, "Johnny, I'm on the first step, coming to get your liver!" Johnny hides under covers, etc (you can stretch these tales out as far as you have the imagination to do!) until finally the voice is...right...outside...his...door... Then it's in the room and... (read a version online that was collected by another storytelling friend, Tim Jennings.)

Golden Arm: a man or woman loses an arm and replaces it with a gold prosthetic limb. When the person dies, the arm is buried with them. Somebody digs up the grave and steals the golden arm. And of course, the thief is hounded by a voice that keeps repeating "who's got my golden arm?" (sound familiar?). You know the rest. (read Joseph Jacobs' classic version here.)

For more good Halloween stories to tell, visit Bare Bones for Storytellers: Halloween Stories. This is part of Jackie Baldwin's Story-Lovers site; it's a compilation of stories submitted by storytellers all over the world.

Okay, that's my list. tell us your favorite jump tale in a comment. We'd all love to read it--and jump!

(For free Halloween clip art, visit the hershey's chocolate website. They've got some great art for free: http://www.hersheys.com/trickortreats/downloads/clipart.asp#inner1 ).


City Mouse said...

Awesome info - I knew that these must be stories that had been around a long time, but it really is neat to see you write about it - I know "Who has my Golden Arm" intimately from Boy Scout Camp!

Granny Sue said...

These are such old classics that we tend to think everyone knows them, Mouse, but sometimes a storyteller in a crunch for time may forget these stories, or a parent/scout leader needs just a little something to tell to their kids. I love to tell Tailypo, although it can be almost too scary for some children, depending on how it's told.

tipper said...

I remember being scared by the Golden Arm story as a child. Also the Coming to get your Liver-but it was coming to get your head. Neat list!

Loved the Bony fingers too-can't wait to tell that one to the girls.

Granny Sue said...

Your girls will love it, tipper, and you can play it out as far as you want to go. There are many other jump tales with funny endings; maybe next Halloween I'll list those.

Herrien said...

Nice post, thanks for sharing this wonderful and useful information with us.

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