Friday, December 30, 2011

Stories for Kids

The Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild's Children's Series starts in just over two weeks.  This is a series of storytelling performances held at Godfrey Daniels, 7 East Fourth Street in Bethlehem PA on the first and third Sundays - usually - of January, February, and March.  This year, there is only one January performance because the first Sunday is New Year's Day!

Mary Wright will perform on Jan. 15th at Godfrey Daniels
So, at 2 pm, on January 15th, at Godfrey Daniels, all story loving youngsters, and story loving young-at-heart-sters, are in for a HUGE treat.  Mary Wright will tell stories and she is superb.  It doesn't hurt that Cops 'n' Kids will be there handing out FREE books as well.  Admission is charged for this event.  Very young children (under 2) are admitted free.

Mark your calendars NOW!  (I'll remind you later.)

The Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, teaching and preserving the art of storytelling in the Lehigh Valley. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thursday Again!

East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon, as illustrated by Donn P Crane

It's Thursday - Storytelling Thursday, that is.  Let's talk about Fairy Tales - my personal favorite and a great blog dedicated to them, Fairy Tale Lobby.

My favorite fairy tale  is "East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon."  "East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon" is a wonderful tale for the winter, featuring as it does, a great white bear.  I remember poring over this story in "My Book House", a fabulous set of books developed by Olive Beaupre Miller, for families.  Back in the days before easy access to public libraries, (not every family had a car or lived within walking distance of a library) and definitely before the Internet, sets of books like "My Book House" and "Junior Classics" lined the bookshelves of a lot of living rooms.  My sister spirited away our family's set of My Book House.  But I was lucky enough to find another set somewhere - a garage sale or a rummage.

In "East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon", a young girl is carried off by a great white bear (to be his wife?).  Every night someone enters the room next to her, but she never sees him. (I suspect the original did away with the extra room.) The Bear tells her to mind her own business when she asks him about the strange lodger. But curiosity overcomes her - Blast you, Curiosity! - and she drips wax on the stranger's nightshirt and he wakes up.   Of course, he is the Bear, under a spell and if only she had been able to control her curiosity, the spell would have been broken!!! Now, he must go far, far away where she will never find him.  Ha!  Never tell a curious woman that she can't have what she wants.  So, she follows him and she overcomes one obstacle after another.  Sigh,  so romantic.

This theme of curiosity forcing one character to lose the affections, or more likely the presence, of another character, is scattered all through European fairy tales.  (I can only speak about European folktales and fairy tales because those are the stories I read as a child.) In Jim Henson's series, The Storyteller, there is a similar tale, "Hans my Hedgehog".  In that story, the wife wears through "seven pairs of iron shoes" before she rescues her husband from his bespelled exile.

Perhaps, the original tellers wanted their listeners to think carefully about peering into other people's secrets.  But the curious character is also brave, determined, loyal and resourceful.   If she had not opened the box, lit the candle, followed the path, looked into the mirror, would the spell truly have been broken? And, her circumstances are usually confusing and restrictive making the riddle all that more powerful.

Or perhaps, the original tellers were warning their listeners that knowledge is a gift and a responsibility.   The answers to our questions often create problems.  But those answers just as often lead to riches.  Anyway, I just hope all of those handsome enchanted men were worth the trouble!

If you love fairy tales, you will enjoy Fairy Tale Lobby, a blog written by Megan Hicks and Mary Grace Ketner.  These acclaimed storytellers delve into fairy tales and invite readers to comment and pick the tales apart along with them.