A winning story for the kiddies
I spent part of my day yesterday at the LaCrosse Riverside Family Fun Day, telling stories alongside some of my fellow tellers from the Bluff Country Talespinners. At such events, I use my tried and true material, so that I can be fully present and enjoy the story and the audience. I enjoyed my two sets immensely. Telling "Anansi Gets the Stories," using my string to illustrate always pulls the listeners in. I had fun next telling about the "Little Girl and the Big Monster," warning the parents that I could not be held responsible for the results of my telling. The kids were a bit older in this set, perfect for that story of a naughty middle child who irritates the heck out of her family, only to "get hers" in hilarious fashion when the hideous beast visiting her window every night finally blew the raspberries at her.
My next set had more people, but younger listeners. I'd thought about a shorter tale, but they'd been attentive in the previous set, perhaps thawing from the blustery day outside, who knows? So I proceeded to launch into a newer story of mine, an Irish tale called "The Bee, The Mouse and the Bumclock," in which I use my authentic bodhran--badly!--to signal the start of the action by the talented dancing critters. Though my tipper skills lack greatly, the story was enjoyed by all. A rewarding afternoon, especially watching, as I always do, the parents and grandparents being drawn into the spell as deeply as the kids.
Today was a day to try something new, though. It was my day to tell to the first graders, and I'd discovered a new story shared by Olga Loya, "The Belly Button Monster." She first heard it in true oral tradition from a fellow named Arnie, who heard it from another woman. She suggests telling the kids this is a very serious story, and putting on their serious faces, an exercise with first graders that made me realize I should have had my camera along. Serious faces in place, I told them the name of the story. They chuckled. I launched into the tale of a little boy who can't keep his blanket over him at night, allowing the Belly Button Monster to take his. The series of events revolving around the lack of a belly button and comical results of trying to get it back were knee slappers for these kids. They hooted, they hollered, they joined in the refrain--- "whoosh--he threw his blanket right off." I'm not sure how happy their teacher was when I left after igniting that much laughter, but it was nearly the end of the day--she just had to get them to pack up and head for the bus, but not before several of them pulled their shirts up to show off their own belly buttons.
It's a keeper. I'll be telling that one again. And again. And again, I'm sure!