"This latest book by a well-known folklorist and children's librarian is a must for the beginning storyteller. In a convincing and personal style, MacDonald outlines the basics to help one get started at storytelling.
The author discussed techniques for learning and performing a story, provides criteria for choosing suitable and well-crafted stories, and offers suggestions to beginning storytellers for finding their own style.
After each short chapter, she includes a bibliography pointing storytellers to other story material. The suggested material is not only valuable to beginning storytellers but to school and public librarians who want to develop a collection of storytelling materials for their respective uses.
Aware that beginning storytellers need to try out effective stories in order to gain confidence, MacDonald presents 12 multicultural tales for different age groups, ranging from preschoolers to teenagers. After each story, she offers tips for telling the story and useful background information about the story and its variants. The stories are easy to learn, invite audience participation and are sure to be a hit with the audience.
MacDonald believes in the power of stories, a belief that is demonstrated throughout the book. After reading this book, beginning storytellers will be eager to get started."
"MacDonald, a well-known children's librarian, storyteller, and collector of folktales, offers a practicum for the novice. Tips on technique are augmented by advice on integrating stories into all kinds of classwork, from language arts to mathematics. A sample whole language web is supplied. MacDonald ends her lessons with a dozen popular tales and tips for telling them (some suggestions on pronunciations would have been helpful here). A few (too few) select stories on tape are cited in one of the many, extensive bibliographies that close each chapter. The many fine print resources are helpful, but so would have been more leads to experts or tape or video."
"Following her fine collection Peace Tales,
MacDonald here distills her extensive storytelling experience into 16 very brief, schematically organized chapters. Her advice covers the practical ground, from selection, learning (in one hour!), performance, and setting, to classroom applications. Her philosophy of telling is simple: "Do it!" A confidence-building coach, MacDonald conveys the value of storytelling in an infectious manner. A dozen texts of proven success follow, with performance tips and source notes. Equally valuable are the selected and annotated bibliographies appended to every chapter. This straightforward volume would be a handy reference even for veterans. Few readers will be able to encounter MacDonald's encouraging advocacy without feeling an urge to find a story and audience of their own."
School Library Journal
Marilyn Berg Iarusso
"This excellent introduction to storytelling is filled with good advice for beginners and reinforcement and insights for experienced tellers. MacDonald's enthusiasm makes the book a pleasure to read as she addresses contemporary issues in storytelling in a compelling and thought-provoking way. Her topics include: finding good stories (rightly pointed out as the hardest part of the storyteller's job); planning ahead to ensure better control of the event; adjusting to different ages and other audience traits; dealing with copyrights; defending your work against parental challenges; and networking with other storytellers. Her chapter on performing the story is especially good for librarians who may need to be reminded that storytelling is a performance event, not a recitation. She also strongly encourages the neophyte to develop an eye and an ear for story by reading widely in literary and folklore collections. Her bibliographies and reference lists are excellent, thorough, and up-to-date. Each chapter has a thoughtfully prepared list of books and other media. MacDonald includes 12 stories her audiences have loved, tailored for repetition and group play. They include humorous, rowdy, and spellbinding tales that can work with a wide range of ages, including teenagers."
"The Storyteller's Start-Up Book
by Margaret Read MacDonald is prepared for the beginning storyteller. Included are techniques for learning and performing stories, criteria for selecting stories, suggestions for settings, and ideas for incorporating storytelling into the classroom. Also included are 12 easy-to-learn stories as well as hints and bibliographies to help you locate more 'tellable tales'."
Youth Services in Libraries
"Margaret Read MacDonald, a children's librarian in the King County Library System in Seattle and respected author of several fine books on storytelling (The Storyteller's Sourcebook
and Twenty Tellable Tales,
among others), presents us with an excellent, common-sense approach for the beginning storyteller, with much to interest the experienced teller as well. MacDonald's techniques for learning and advice on selecting are straightforward and easy to follow, even for the most timid, and her evangelistic call to action is hard to resist. She speaks to those who are intimidated by the polished professional storytellers who tour the country these days—to those who think to themselves, I could never do that!
—and admonishes from page one that while we can be inspired and awed by professional tellers, it is even more important to have "caring tellers in every home and community who will share story with the personal warmth and concern that only the intimacy of small-group storytelling can provide."
MacDonald describes the experience of storytelling as "playing" with an audience and creating "a dance" between teller and listeners, a true sharing rather than a "performance." In her advice on bringing a story to life in print—searching for the voice of the original tellers and making the tale flow again—she does not minimize the difficulty of the task, but emphasizes the joy of the result. This is the heart and soul of storytelling, to make the audience feel that they are individually and collectively a part of the process, and MacDonald gives very specific advice on how to make that happen.
Every chapter is followed by a bibliography, annotated by subheadings, which is especially useful since she mentions many of the sources in her text. She nods often and respecfully to those who have contributed to the rich body of writings on storytelling—Ruth Sawyer, Augusta Baker, etc.—but adds her own unique insights to the process. The book concludes with twelve "foolproof" tales, each with tips for telling and background information on the story that reflects MacDonald's training as a folklorist and interest in multicultural traditions.
This is a book that every librarian should own and every librarian should personally recommend to people in the community who work with groups of all kinds. Interest in storytelling is growing every year; its importance as a shared group activity in promoting understanding, psychological insights, and multicultural awareness cannot be stressed enough. Librarians should be on the cutting edge of this revival and should be actively urging others to participate—both as listeners and as tellers."
Susquehanna Tellers' News
"This is an impressive book, not only for the beginning teller, but for anyone committed to the art of storytelling. Sixteen chapters take the reader through such subjects as "An Invitation to Storytell," "Learning the Story in One Hour," "Accepting the Role of Storyteller" and "Belonging to the Story." It discusses the values of storytelling and gives guidelines on networking with other storytellers. I particularly liked the "blessing" MacDonald gives new tellers As storytellers we learn and grow from hearing and seeing other storytellers in action, in the end however, we must find our own telling of the stories we choose in order to be true to ourselves and our sense of story.
A most valuable aspect of the book is that at the end of each chapter there is a sizable bibliography giving reference to numerous writings that expand and deepen awareness on the idea covered in that chapter. And as a bonus gift, MacDonald has "given" twelve very tellable stories to beginners, stories written in her ethnopoetic style and defined as being "fool-proof" tales that will work very well for first-time tellers."
The Book Report
"For those who have considered incorporating storytelling into their classes or programs but hesitated to try, MacDonald's book is a great tool. An accomplished storyteller and librarian, she has written a concise, non-threatening guide. Those already telling stories will learn tips for teaching students and other adults to become tellers. The book covers techniques for learning a story, selection criteria, and ways to incorporate storytelling into the curriculum. One chapter includes information on defending a story should a parent object to its content. The second half of the book contains a collection of easy-to-tell tales that can be used with preschool through adult audiences. MacDonald provides addresses of organizations that provide support for storytellers. If you are a storytellers or are thinking of introducing storytelling into your lessons, this book is an excellent starting place."
The Story Bag
"For those who have ever heard a storyteller and thought " I wonder if I could do that," this is the book to get you started. Margaret Read MacDonald, well-known and well-respected author of such storytelling classics as Twenty Tellable Tales
, has written a perfect, basic, get-you-telling book for novice tellers or anyone who wants to reconsider the process of finding and telling tales in its most elemental form. MacDonald is convincing. Storytelling is fun. Storytelling is valuable. You can do it. This kit includes everything: suggestions for finding stories, a simple method for learning a story, ideas for places which would welcome a storyteller, ideas for using stories in the classroom, lists of reasons why storytelling is valuable and important (to convince your principal or supervisor), and many, many, bibliographies for those who--now started on the storytelling road--look for new worlds to explore. Finally, MacDonald includes twelve stories, fine for telling. These stories are unusual. They come from far-flung places, England to Angola. All are written in an ethnopoetic form which makes learning them easy. For each story, MacDonald offers notes on sources and variants and suggestions on telling. You can't go wrong. Whether you want a start-up or just need to brush up your storytelling skills, this book belongs on every storyteller's shelf."
"Teachers, librarians, and all those who provide care for small children will gain both practical and inspirational help from this excellent resource for storytelling techniques, selections, teaching, activities, advice, and tips."
Midwest Book Review
"Margaret Read MacDonald's The Storyteller's Start-Up Book
is a fine guide to the fine art of telling stories to children: it provides concrete tips on performance, tells how to select material appropriate for storytelling, and is packed with ideas on how to inject stories with drama and action using both voice and props."
Madison County Journal
"Storytelling offers many things to those who choose it," veteran Margaret Read MacDonald says in the introduction to her new The Storyteller's Start-Up Book
. "Stories can teach, nourish, inspire. They can carry a burden of political message. It is clear that stories change to fit our worlds. Conversely, stories may change our worlds.
"To this teller, story is joy, play, a chance to share. The story event can range from quiet, intense listening to group playfulness which erupts into song and dance. The key lies in communicating directly with each listener."
As a childrens librarian in Seattle, MacDonald tells stories to some 10,000 children every year. She describes her work as "a gentle, homely art which can take a lifetime of apprenticeship and still yield new rewards at every turn. But this simple art is so accessible that you can hear just one small tale, and begin tomorrow to pass it on!"
She is also noted for her storytelling workshops, which she has offered to teachers in the U.S., Europe, and New Zealand. She is the author of nine other books on the subject, from how-tos for tellers to story collection. Her current The Storyteller's Start-Up Book
, subtitled "Finding, Learning, Performing, and Using Folktales," includes everything the beginning teller should know in order to begin a community, school or library story hour or to participate in one of many storytellers' groups which have become so popular.
She includes 12 fool-proof folktales which she says work for the first-time teller, from such varied sources as Alaska, Hawaii, Wales, Nigeria, and Zaire. Arranged to relay a sense of rhythm, these stories encourage audience participation and offer enough repetition of the theme to make them easy to remember. These are arranged by age groups, with tips for telling and notes on stories themselves.
The index covers a complete biography for the storyteller, from technique to sources. Her own experiences, from dealing wit parents to networking with other tellers, are included. With the current interest in the subject, this timely, well-researched and edited book should encourage the beginner and helps schools and libraries revitalize their current programs, MacDonald's own zest for the subject shines through every story."
"This volume is a manual for the novice storyteller and tells how to select and perform folktales.
Dr. McDonald should certainly be able to explain how one tells a story, since she herself is a storyteller, as well as a librarian.
There are twelve "foolproof" tales to help you get started."
"Often reviewed in these pages are books by storytellers--people who tell, rather than write, tales, legends, and stories. The intention of these collections is that they be put into the hands of parents, librarians, and educators, so these people can enrich the lives of children and others by reading them traditional and modern folktales from many cultures.
But because merely reading
a story is one thing and telling
it is another, the author of the present volume goes a step further. The Storyteller's Start-Up Book
, as its name implies, is the how-to book for potential storytellers. Dr. Margaret Read MacDonald, a librarian and storyteller herself, offers practical advice and explicit instructions not only in choosing stories but in effectively delivering them so that audiences of all ages will ask for more.
Designed for beginners, the book is efficient and very usably designed. Advice is at hand on how to learn any story (in a single hour!), how to perform it, and even how to teach it to others.
The most convincing chapter in the book (and the shortest) is the one titled "Belonging to the Story," and the expert yet very brief advice here should help the beginner never to feel like one: "to truly belong
to a story, you must tell it many times."
Half the book is given over to a dozen "Stories Audiences Have Loved," more than enough with which to begin."