There is a legend about blues guitarist Robert Johnson- that he sold his soul to the devil for the ability to play blues guitar like no other. Is it true? Perhaps, perhaps not; it's a legend that surrounds other bluesmen and many a struggling musician has gone in search of "the crossroads" to see if they can also have the skills and influence of Robert Johnson. Crossroads is not about that search,
Horror fiction: There're a lot of arguments about what it is and isn't -- it's bloody; it doesn't have to be bloody. It's supernatural, like werewolves and ghosts; it can have just people -- they're scary enough. It's got sparkly vampires who can inexplicably run around all day; vampires don't fall in love, they fall with their fangs into your neck. Whatever version of horror you subscribe to, with Halloween coming up quickly, it's what's for dinner.
We receive wonderful questions from kids at our "Ask Questions Here" desk, and in our programs. But we also get a lot of terrific statements. One of my favorites is: "I know that book!" or "I know that story!" This statement is typically shared as an excited, gleeful shout. It feels good to know something. It's empowering.
Children's librarians have a long history of sharing classic nursery rhymes, folk and fairy tales with children: Three Little Kittens, Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Besides being part of our cultural literacy, these stories lay a foundation for an understanding of character, sequence, and plot. Familiarity with folk and fairytales -- and the ability to retell familiar stories - also is an expectation of our state's curriculum standards.
And how do these stories become familiar to our children? By hearing them, reading them -- even seeing them performed -- repeatedly, of course. Read a picture book version of the story together, listen to it on audiobook, tell it in your own words; invite your child to tell the story to you. One of the extra fun things about folk tales is comparing the different versions of the same story. How does James Marshall's version of The Three Little Pigs compare to Paul Galdone's version? And once a child is familiar with the classic tale, they may have greater appreciation for the spin-offs and variants, such as The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka.
Huff & Puff is a new picture book variation of The Three Little Pigs folktale. It's funny and clever enough to be enjoyed in its own right, but children who know the classic tale will have a jump start on predicting what's going to happen in this story -- and being pleasantly surprised by the different conclusion. This version also presents a unique way to invite participation in the story. There are small holes cut out in the pages through which the reader is invited to HUFF & PUFF. If you play the part of the wolf and huff and puff hard enough, the consequence is apparent when you turn the page! Give it a try. Invite your child to take a first step to becoming a storyteller. Provide an opportunity for them to tell you what they know.
The Troll With No Heart In His Body and Other Tales of Trolls, from Norway consists of tales retold by "The Troll Lady," Lise Lunge-Larsen, with striking woodcut and colored ink illustrations by Betsy Bowen. Lunge-Larsen is a storyteller who emigrated to Minnesota from Norway, bringing with her mythic Norse stories of giant trolls with tiny brains. In her introduction, she says, "Nothing can truly show children, even adults, more about how to live, about who they are, and about their place in the world, and the struggles of life than a good folktale, and these troll stories I count among the best."
School is almost out and the summer reading program has begun. Our theme this year is One World Many Stories: Get Reading, Get Moving. Reading folktales is the perfect way to explore this exciting theme and one of the best folktale collectors is Margaret Read MacDonald. Dr. MacDonald lived in Bloomington many years ago when she studied for her Ph.D. in folklore at Indiana University. She lives and works in Washington state today where she is a librarian, storyteller, and author of dozens of books. Some of her books are collections that are perfect for beginning storytellers. Teachers, parents, and kids who want to learn how to tell stories will love The Storyteller's Start-Up Book . These stories are easy to learn and Dr. MacDonald gives great advice on how to present them. When the Lights Go Out: Twenty Scary Tales to Tell is a fun collection of shivery stories that are great to share around a summer campfire.
What would you do if the leader of your country ordered you to kill your parents? What if you had a talking mask that looked just like your best friend? Imagine finding a village of tiny people who all rode on rabbits. What would you say if they told you that you could live forever?