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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Warming the Stone Child: Myths and Stories about Abandonment and the Unmothered Child by Clarissa Pinkola Eses, audiobook, 2 CDs, unabridged, running time 1 hours (Jungian Storyteller Series: Sounds True)

The pain of abandonment, both real and metaphorical, can cast a shadow over a persons entire adult experience. Warming the Stone Child investigates the abandoned child archetype in world myths and cultures to find clues about the process of healing the unmothered child within us all. Spiced with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes' storytelling, Warming the Stone Child is a unique listening experience with a practical edge.

On 2 CDs, Estes leads listeners past the gates of the conscious mind to discover the unmothered child within. Along the way, this gifted storyteller and Jungian psychoanalyst instructs them about the psychology of abandonment in childhood, how it affects them in later life, and its curiously special gifts and powers. Drawing from many world cultures, Estes has gathered a collection of deep myths, fables, and fairy tales with adult listeners in mind. Her storytelling creates a compelling picture of the orphan figure through the ages, while helping listeners understand the meaning of preadolescent abandonment in their own lives.

Highlights of Warming the Stone Child include:

  • The Inuit fable of the Stone Child.
  • Symptoms of the adult abandoned child.
  • The story of the Little Red Cap.
  • The English tale of the Stolen Woman Moon.
  • The four types of abandonment.
  • Re-creating the inner mother.

Estes is an internationally recognized scholar, award-winning poet, diplomate senior Jungian psychoanalyst, and cantadora (keeper of the old stories) in the Latina tradition. Holding a doctorate in intercultural studies and clinical psychology, she has taught and practiced privately for 26 years. With over two million copies in print, her New York Times bestseller Women Who Run With the Wolves has been hailed as a classic and the seminal work on the instinctual nature of women.

The subtitle of this collection in the Jungian Storyteller Series is "Myths and Stories About Abandonment and the Unmothered Child." Estes's silky smooth soprano voice is almost hypnotic as she tells these metaphorical stories. Her tone seems cool and detached as she narrates fairly complex tales. While she suggests aspects that may be particularly meaningful, her gentle voice allows the listener to place the emphasis where he or she wishes. Estes blends myths, fairy tales, fables and Jungian psychology into a unified presentation of the orphan figure who spends his or her life searching for or recreating the inner mother. M.G.S., AudioFile

Another underground bestseller from the author of Women Who Run with the Wolves. Important material for those wishing to fan alive the coals glowing within. Parenting Magazine

Warming the Stone Child is most impressive for its magical storytelling. The volume will guide both therapists and those working on their own self-healing.

Storytelling for Young Adults: A Guide to Tales for Teens (Second Edition) by Gail de Vos (Libraries Unlimited) A powerful teaching tool and form of entertainment, story­telling has been overlooked and underused with teen (grades 7-12) audi­ences. But which stories work best with young adults? Storytelling for Young Adults was written with the express purpose of demonstrating to storytellers, librarians, edu­cators, and parents the importance of telling stories to young adults and help­ing storytellers and educators find good stories for the young adult audience. In the decade since its first publication, a wealth of new material has been published for the telling, so the annotated stories in this second edition have all been found in those books, the ones published in the 1990s and the early years of the new millennium.

In Storytelling for Young Adults you’ll find suggestions for hundreds of smart and color­ful tales that will get teens’ attention, complete with brief plot summaries and bibliographic information. To help you pick the perfect story, storytelling expert Gail deVos groups her diverse story suggestions by theme:

  • Tales of the Fantastic - the supernatural, horror tales, contemporary legends
  • Tales of the Folk - folktales, fairy tales
  • Tales of Life - romance, family, local histories
  • Tales of the Spirit - myths, pourquoi tales, legends
  • Tales of Laughter - tall tales, tales with humorous twists and turns
  • Tales of the Arts and Sciences - literary tales, fractured fairy tales, word origins

De Vos shares proven techniques for choosing the right story, introducing the story to teenagers, and making the storytelling experience memorable. Storytelling for Young Adults is an essential resource for storytellers and would-be storytellers, as well as for librarians and educators who work with teens.

The Invisible Child: On Reading and Writing Books for Children by Katherine Paterson (Dutton) Here are the remarkable critical speeches and essays of world-renowned author Katherine Paterson. Featuring selected essays originally published in Gates of Excellence and The Spying Heart, this collection also includes the complete acceptance speeches for her two National Book Awards and two Newbery Medals, plus a new introduction and eight speeches never before published in book form.
With the same perception, wit, and generosity that characterize her fiction, this much-honored writer shares her ideas about writing for children, as well as her passion for reading, her spiritual faith, and her conviction that the imagination must be nourished. Her words will touch all those who care about literature and the lives of children.

The likeliest explanation for Ms Paterson's choice of career may be her own love of stories: "if you call yourself a writer," she observes, "you can read all you want to and people will think you are working." Beyond that, Ms Paterson saw the impact that writing could have on her chosen audience: "When I became a writer, I wanted to write books for children like me who were often discouraged and afraid ‑who needed encouragement and hope." The common perception that children's stories require happy endings to provide peace of mind does not work for Ms Paterson. For her, "a bit of cheer pasted to the end" is not what children look for: "They want hope rooted in reality, not wishful thinking."

Ms Paterson stresses how successful, effective writing for children takes into account the actual workings of their lives, both positive and negative. Children may read seeking adventure, escape, or laughter, but most importantly, they look for insight into more serious concerns: "‑to understand themselves, to understand others, to rehearse the experiences that someday they may live out in the flesh." There is no harm for a child to read about life's difficulties; in fact, for Ms Paterson, "the time a child needs a book about life's dark passages is before he or she has had to experience them," so as to learn ahead of time about possible ways to cope.
Successful children's stories also do not need to insist on teaching virtues. "When I write a book I am not setting out to teach virtue," Ms Paterson says, "I am trying to tell a story, I am trying to draw my reader into the mystery of human life in this world." Rather then present idealized views on the manner in which children ought to conduct themselves, Ms Paterson praises books where "the child, the real child, is fully visible in them, portrayed with respect and affection." If characters are presented this way, then readers may see themselves with all their fears and failings, but still be able "to like the selves they see because the author has seen them so clearly and so obviously cares for them. As they come to love and forgive these people on the page [they are] able to forgive and love their own deepest selves." The child reader has the chance to recognize the invisible child, the child with worries and wonders within him or herself, and may gain a sense of belonging in the big bewildering world that they are just beginning to understand.

The Invisible Child is a positive, but challenging, message to those who select children's stories for publication or to add to a curriculum, and for those reading or recommending stories for children of their own.

Inviting the Wolf in: Thinking About the Difficult Story by Loren Niemi and Elizabeth Ellis (August House) As professional storytellers, Loren Niemi and Elizabeth Ellis have confronted their fair share of stories that are difficult to tell, as well as uncomfortable for the audience to hear. They know that almost any story can be troublesome to tell in the context in which it is heard, or if it is personally problematic for either the teller or listener.

Of course, many stories ‑ by the very nature of their subject matter are always going to be difficult for both teller and listener. It's taxing for anyone to speak of topics such as violence, rape, betrayal, revenge, abuse, suicide, racism, and death without having strong emotions and worries. But Niemi and Ellis feel that it is essential to tell and hear the difficult stories of life.

According to the authors, Inviting the Wolf In: Thinking About Difficult Stories sprang from a simple question: "How can we learn from our troubles and how can we share those experiences with others in a way that helps them learn and grow?" They feel the answer to the question is also a simple one: "Tell the story." Their sense of the importance of these stories, however, goes much deeper: "We believe that to understand, shape, and honestly tell the difficult story is to touch the core of what it means to be human."

Inviting the Wolf In is designed for anyone who deals with crisis and confusion, but it is especially helpful to storytellers, ministers, therapists, social workers, human service professionals, lawyers, and teachers. The book has three essential elements: a general discussion about the value and necessity of telling difficult stories; a "how‑to" section that leads readers through the process of creating and shaping difficult stories; and sample stories authored by Niemi, Ellis, and others who explain the choices they made in shaping them.

Stories include Niemi's "By the Grace of God," an account of a homeless man from which the author learned life truths over a $3.68 bottle of Irish Rose; "Demeter and Persephone, 1984," Ellis's telling of the poignant myth in conjunction with the disappearance of her own fifteen‑year-old pregnant daughter; and Tim Herwig's "Slaughter House," a disturbing and gut‑wrenching look at a business of the same name. Suggested further reading and a bibliography are included.

  Tell It Together: Foolproof Scripts for Story Theatre by Barbara McBride-Smith (August House) Story Theatre? "Readers Theatre on Steroids!" Oklahoma Educator "Beefs Up" Classroom Participation

Story Theatre begins with the best techniques and discipline of Readers Theatre, and then breaks all the rules.

‑Barbara McBride‑Smith

Professional storyteller, librarian, and teacher Barbara McBride

Smith has been working with kids for a mighty long time, and she's learned a fair amount of what grabs their interest and enthusiasm. High up on her list of kid‑ and classroom‑tested activities is Story Theatre, a storytelling vehicle that allows a group of people to tell a story together.

McBride‑Smith has been developing and field‑testing Story Theatre scripts in workshops, in her own classroom, and in classrooms throughout the United States for more than twenty years. Although the end result of her scripting is a new book ‑ Tell It Together: Foolproof Scripts for Story Theatre ‑ the scripts were not written for the purpose of being published in book form. "They were written as real lesson plans and workshop activities for students and teachers who know what really works," she says.

According to McBride‑Smith, Story Theatre embraces many values important in the classroom:

Beginning storytellers can learn the art of performing in a supportive, non‑threatening environment.  Non‑readers and non‑verbal students can help tell the story.

Story Theatre supports a whole language philosophy of learning. Story Theatre is a participatory sport. Story Theatre is inexpensive and easy. Story Theatre is fun.

Scripts are divided into three categories: Myths ("Arachne and Athena," "Bill Erophon and His Horse Peggy Sue," "The Naming of Athens"), Folktales ("Aaron Kelly is Dead," "Sody Salleratus," "Cat‑Skins"), and Fiction ("Bubba the Cowboy Prince," "A Thoroughly Modern Rapunzel," "Santaberry and the Snard").

Equipment needed for Story Theatre can be simple and inexpensive. McBride‑Smith suggests such items as scripts and binders, stools, music stands, wooden platforms, very simple costumes, sound effect devices, basic props, and sparse sets. All stories in the book can be told by a group or by a single storyteller, and are designed for third to sixth grade students, although many are appropriate for older students

 Through the Grapevine: World Tales Kids Can Read & Tell by Martha Hamilton, Mitch Weiss edited by Carol Lyon (August House) Grapevine Keeps Buzzing Into Twenty‑First Century: "1 like storytelling better than TV, because the TV never asks you to do anything." ‑Elementary Student

35,000 years ago ‑ give or take ‑ folks started talking with one nother. They spent the next 29,500 years (or 8,082,191 days) perfecting the art of the story, whether it was a report on the day's hunt, the latest news in culinary cave cuisine, or where did thunder and lightning really come from.

When written language appeared some 5,500 years ago, spoken communication began evolving into new forms via the printing press, telegraph, telephone, radio, television, and the Internet. But like a Mississippi patch of Kudzu claims its territory, the grapevine of communication absorbed and utilized all those technological advances and continued to thrive, and in the last twenty‑five years ‑ with the storytelling renaissance ‑ we've gone back to our roots and stories are being told on audiocassettes and CDs, and in places such as schools, libraries, museums, senior citizen centers, storytelling festivals, and most importantly, in homes.

Storytellers Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss have embraced the stories carried down through the ages by many cultures in their latest book, Through the Grapevine: World Tales Kids Can Read and Tell. Thirty‑one world tales that are fun to read out loud and especially fun to tell are included, as well as tips for telling the story without the book. The authors encourage budding tellers to "take these stories and make them your own. Don't tell them exactly the way we wrote them. Make them jump off the page!"

Twenty‑nine countries and traditions are represented, including Kenya/Tanzania ("The Fearsome Monster in Hare's House"), Turkey ("Watermelons and Walnuts"), Norway ("The Boy Who Battled the Troublesome Troll"), Congo ("Taking the Bad with the Good"), and Jewish ("The Thief Who Aimed to Please"). General tips for telling stories, follow‑up activities, and story sources are included.

This collection embodies the philosophy of Hamilton and Weiss when it comes to the importance of nurturing the modern‑day grapevine: "It's only when stories are passing from one person to another that they really come alive. It's the living story‑the one told directly to us by someone else‑that grabs our attention and touches our hearts."

The Parent's Guide to Storytelling: How to Make Up New Stories and Retell Old Favorites by Margaret Read MacDonald (August House) "There is a special magic in the sharing of a story with your child... This is a gift you give a child, a gift of time, energy, and caring... a gift of your shared imagination. " ‑‑‑Margaret Read MacDonald

In 2001 master storyteller Margaret Read MacDonald spun her special type of magic around the hearts of more than 15,000 listeners. This year she's waved her wand to make that magic multiply and settle on the shoulders of parents and grandparents, weaving a special web of storytelling sorcery.

MacDonald believes that storytelling is an essential ‑ not optional ‑part of family life. Although the storytelling time spent with children is magical, she doesn't believe that the "hows and wherefores" should be shrouded in mystery. The Parent's Guide to Storytelling: How to Make Up New Stories and Retell Old Favorites glitters with the magic, but is underpinned by the basics.

According to MacDonald, the benefits of family storytelling are many: passing on values ("saying without saying"), developing literary skills (exposing the child to fine language), recording history (giving a sense of our own past), nurturing emotional development (providing models for encountering and overcoming adversity), and fostering intimacy (giving the gift of shared imaginations).

MacDonald knows that part of the magic is fitting storytelling into our busy lives. Since TV has replaced the traditional family fireside gathering at night, she suggests using other niches during the day, such as long drives in the car, time spent waiting for some other activity to begin, moments before naptime or bedtime. Even those "cranky afternoons" can be brightened by audience‑participation stories and tales.

The Parent's Guide to Storytelling has stories with telling tips and techniques for all ages:

Favorite Nursery Tales ("The Little Red Hen") Fingerplay Stories ("The Parrot with the Key to Rome") Bedtime stories ("The Squeaky Door") Expandable Stories ("Ms. Mouse Needs a Friend") Endless Tales ("A Dark and Stormy Night") Participation Folktales ("Cheese and Crackers") Scary Stories ("The Dark, Dark House") Family Stories ("Grandpa and the Blacksnake") Frogs into princes? Snow White awake once more? Old hat! MacDonald's magic turns parents into tellers, children into listeners ‑ and that would make even Merlin sit up and take notice!

Over the Lip of the World: Among the Storytellers of Madagascar by Colleen J. McElroy (University of Washington Press) With wit, insight, and humor, Colleen McElroy tells of her journey to Madagascar for a Fulbright research project exploring Malagasy oral traditions and myths. Throughout, she interweaves traditional Malagasy stories. Most of the tales she retells are quick on their feet and short-lived and, not rarely, obscure in an undoubting way. As with most folklore, they contain elements that require listeners to suspend disbelief and accept a certain level of magic at play in order to garner the story's gift, which often revolves around examples of bravery, morality, responsibility the wisdom of ancestors. The stories also encompass origin myths, or pose as brief expressions of larger truths: why dogs chase cats, how a child should speak to an adult, how tricksters plot revenge, how places get their names, why and how spouses cheat on each other. Included as well is a sampler of contemporary Malagasy poetry. A fine cross-over book, mainly folklore with a touch of the poet.

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