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For last week’s Storytellers’ group I volunteered to search out all the resources in Tauranga Library and tell people about them. I also threw in some useful web resources. This is what I came up with:



book 1
Keepers of the story : oral traditions in religionby Megan McKenna
Megan McKenna is a storyteller with a PhD in theology. She looks at the place of story in religion and illustrates this with reference to many stories form different religious faiths.

Mythology : The illustrated anthology of world myth and storytelling
Contains many stories from all over the world.

book 4Brave tales : developing literacy through storytelling by Will Coleman
This book is written for teachers to help them develop their pupils’ story writing by way of telling traditional tales. However it has information that is applicable to storytelling in any arena including a method of learning stories and of adapting traditional tales. Contains a CD of the author telling a story.

The art of storytelling for teachers and pupils : using stories to develop literacy in primary classroomsby Elizabeth Grudgeon
Although an interesting read this book has less to offer the non-teacher storyteller than the one by Will Coleman

book 6Storytelling with dolls by Elinor Pearce Bailey
A fascinating book about telling the story of Jack in the Beanstalk using ‘dolls’. Two doll-makers with their own unique take on the story, each make a set of props to tell the story. Instructions are provided for the props and tips on storytelling with props.


The power of the story : touching the lives of listeners by Rob Harley
Written from a Christian point of view, this book is about using stories to inspire and change lives. Not much practical information on storytelling

book7Anyone can tell a story : Bob Hartman’s guide to storytelling by Bob Hartman
A good practical guide to storytelling.  Contains a selection of stories, some biblical, many not.


book 5

Storytelling with children by Nancy Mellon
This book is written for parents who want to tell stories to their children but contains a wealth of ideas and techniques that would be universally applicable.



Handbook of the NZ Guild of Storytellers, Nga Kaikorero Purakau o Aotearoa (Inc)by Annette Knowler
The first half of this booklet contains information about the New Zealand Guild of Storytellers but the second half has useful information for storytellers.

book 3Shake-it-up tales!: stories to sing, dance, drum, and act out by Margaret Read MacDonald
A selection of stories that include audience participation.



The story-telbook 2ler’s start-up book : finding, learning, performing, and using folktales by Margaret Read MacDonald
A comprehensive book covering how to find stories, how to learn stories, how to perform stories, how to structure a storytelling session and using storytelling in the classroom. It includes 12 stories and each chapter has a bibliography of useful books and articles.


Websites– The New Zealand Guild of Storytellers website. Online copies of the magazine, tips for tellers, story of the month.– Articles on storytelling, podcasts of storytellers and stories. – An archive of stories arranged by category – A good article on how to become a storyteller – Interesting articles about storytelling from magazines and newspapers – A directory of useful storytelling websites


I managed to find a rubber chicken in the pet section of a variety store but didn’t have much luck tracking down plastic vegetables for the Stone Soup story. I thought about buying some of the modelling clay that dries hard but then I remembered salt-dough. For the first Christmas after I was married I made lots of salt dough ornaments for our Christmas tree – hearts, stars and candy canes. Later on I bought some Christmas cookie cutters and made more decorations – angels, Santas, bells, stars etc. Thirty years later, some are still surviving although others have absorbed moisture and crumbled or been chewed by our dogs. While my children were at Playcentre we would make salt-dough ornaments there each year. It has been 10 years since our Playcentre days so I 1853687294_01__SX140_SY225_SCLZZZZZZZ_thought I’d better look for a book to refresh my memory. I found Dough Craft in a Weekend in the library and it even had instructions on how to make some vegetables. I made a carrot and leek following their instructions but then I was on my own. The parsnip was pretty much the same as the carrot but longer and thinner at the end. The celery was pretty easy – I rolled a log and then indented it with a pencil – but I wasn’t particularly happy with my onion. I still had some dough left so made salt and pepper pots, some mushrooms (from the book) and a head of garlic. I baked them overnight and then for a few hours more the next day. Finally I painted them and sprayed them with polyurethane. I’m quite pleased with how they turned out although the dough was too soft so they ended up flat on the back.

saltdough vegetables

saltdough vegetables

Do you know the story of ‘Stone Soup’? A tinker tries to sell a stone that he says is magic and will produce marvellous soup when boiled up with some water. He offers to give a demonstration. After boiling the stone in the water for  a while he tastes it and says that it is delicious but would be even better with some salt. The housewife gives him some salt and after a while the procedure is repeated with an onion, then some carrots and various other vegetables until at last he suggests that a chicken (or rabbit) will really top things off. After tasting the soup the housewife is happy to pay the price asked for the stone.

I first heard this story in church when I was a child. The minister had all the props – pot, stone, vegetables and his daughter’s toy rabbit. His children’s talks weren’t usually particularly interesting so this one stuck in my mind but, for the life of me, I can’t remember what the message behind the story was. Later on, when I was at primary school, my friend and I acted out the story to our class. I played the part of the housewife who is conned by the smooth-talking, stone-selling tinker. I had the pot and the vegetables and a real chicken (courtesy of Tegel). We even visited some friends with chickens to get some feathers so I could pretend to be plucking the chicken.

My next encounter with the story was telling it to a group of children at my son’s school as part of a ‘milo and marshmellows’ book reading evening. I wore my storyteller’s cloak and produced all the items (except the pot) from out of my large pocket.

At storytellers group last month, Claire talked about making a storyteller’s bag to contain props that reminded us of stories – like a story library. Our homework was to work on a story that could be told using a prop from a storyteller’s bag and ‘Stone Soup’ came to mind. I think I will continue to use the pocket in my cloak rather than a bag but I need to find some long-lasting props rather than raiding my pantry each time I tell it. I have checked out a couple of shops for plastic vegetables without much luck so far but I do have my stone. A couple of years ago, my husband and I took 2 of our sons on a tour of the top of the South Island. We came across a beach with lots of lovely stones. I told my sons that they could only choose one stone each only to find that my husband had collected a dozen and was determined to have them all. They have been sitting in his bag at the bottom of the wardrobe for quite some time so I don’t think he will miss this one!

A soup stone

A soup stone


I belong to a recently formed storytellers group and did my first public storytelling last Thursday. It had been arranged several weeks before that I and 2 other members of the storytellers group would tell stories at a local old folk’s home.  Since our telling would be on the day before Good Friday I thought that stories with an Easter theme would be appropriate. The one that came immediately to mind was the story of how the donkey got his cross. Then I wondered about Faberge eggs and whether there was a story there that I could tell. I looked in the library catalogue and found a book – Faberge’s Eggs . It looked pretty interesting so I took it out.

The day before the telling, I was reasonable happy with the donkey story (which was a pared down version of this one) but still hadn’t even begun to think about a Faberge story. Although the book I was reading was very interesting, it was a bit short on the personal detail that makes for an interesting story. I almost decided to can the Faberge story but then it came to me out of the blue. I decided to tell the story of the first Faberge egg and present it as a traditional ‘fairytale’.

Although I had the rough outline in my head and the opening phrase worked out – “A long time ago in a country far away, there was a ruler who had a problem” – I didn’t actually tell the story before it was the real thing on the Thursday.  It went really well. I enjoyed telling the story and the residents seemed to enjoy it too. I stuck pretty much to the facts but imagined some personal details and tried not to give away the fact that I was talking about Faberge and the Russian royal family until right at the end.

That evening when I told my family what had been doing, my son asked, “what is a Faberge Egg?” I said I could tell him the story but he wasn’t interested.  A pity – I was dying to tell it again.

Two days later I finished reading Faberge’s Eggs.It was a great book.  As well as telling the story of the eggs, it also helped remind me of the Russian history I learnt at school and traced what had happened to the eggs since the Russian revolution. My only criticism is the scarcity of photos. It would have been great to have a photo of each of the eggs interleaved with the story of its creation. There are no photos of some of the eggs but by searching the Internet I found pictures of many of them including the one at the top which is of the first Faberge egg. I also found lots of extra information about some of the eggs.

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