Saturday, August 8, 2015

Stor e Telling: May April 2014: Storytelling World Awards

From the folktale Phakir Chand
Folk-tales of Bengal, 1912
Illustrated by Warwick Goble

This issue focused on the Storytelling World Awards.  I offer you some public domain folktales from around the globe to complement the theme.

Ancient Tales and Folk-lore of Japan
by Richard Gordon Smith, 1918. A collection of “historical legends and folktales from Japan. Themes include ghosts; unrequited love across social boundaries; Shinto landscape, tree and ocean spirits; and tales driven by Bushido and Buddhist ethics.”

Yashpeh: International Folktale Collection
This impressive project is the brainchild of Israeli storyteller Yoel Perez; he has begun to add books, which are in the public domain, to his website. While many of the books are found on websites, such as or Project Gutenberg, he is adding something special, a searchable database. You can key in a specific word, or words, to help you find stories that match your needs, in a number of publications. This is an ongoing project so visit often!

Legends and Stories of Italy for Children - Sixteen stories from this 1909 publication, along with beautiful illustrations.

Silesian Folk Tales (the Book of Rübezahl) by James Lee and James Thomas Carey, 1915.In legends Rübezahl is a giant, gnome or mountain spirit. He is friendly with good people but if you ridicule him he will take his revenge. Sometimes he is the trickster in folktales.

Turkish Fairy Tales and Folktales – Collected by Ignacz Kunos and translated from the Hungarian by Nisbet Bain, 1901. While this book contains some of the same stories as the Turkish book above, there are a number of new tales as well.

Wonder Garden: Nature Myths and Tales from all Over the World by Frances Jennings Alcott, 1919. Here are 150 nature myths and short stories, “tales of transformations of maidens into trees and fountains, of youths into flowers, and of men into birds.” Perfect for celebrating spring!

April is National Frog Month so here are some tales to get you hopping!
The Frog – Collected by Andrew Lang
The Frog and the Condor – Peru

The Frog Princess - Italian

How Frog Went to Heaven - Angola

The Kind Stepdaughter and the Frog - Germany

The Tiger and the Frog - Tibet

The Tsarevna Frog- Russia It’s Not Easy Being Green – The link will lead you to a blog post I wrote in 2010 to celebrate National Frog Month. You will find more stories, curriculum plans, and crafts.

Miscellaneous Site 

Dramatists Guild Bill of Rights – Many storytellers are also budding playwrights. This site will help you navigate the professional waters: Artistic Integrity, Royalties, Billing Credit, Intellectual Property, etc. My thanks to Linda Goodman for sharing this site.

Karen Chace 2015 ©

This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Stor e Telling: January, February, March 2014: Spiritual Stories

Stealers of Light
Edmund Dulac, 1916
Since we said good-bye to 2014 a number of months ago I decided it was time to begin sharing my Stor e Telling columns from the National Storytelling Magazine. The resources below are from the January/February/March 2014 issue. All of the links have been checked and updated where necessary. I hope you find something useful to add to your repertoire either now or in the future.

Please note that I only add my columns to my blog when the year has passed. To receive additional, timely resources, please consider becoming a member of the National Storytelling Network. Your membership includes the National Storytelling Magazine.
The theme for this issue was Spiritual Stories so I begin with these tales.

Buddhist Tales for Young and Old
Fifty-Five stories, many of which indicate the character trait symbolized in the story.

Spiritual – A variety of stories, Buddhist, Zen, Sufi, Jewish, Christian and Nasrudin are here.

Zen Stories -
Over fifty stories in the Zen tradition. "This web site is a collection of stories from the Orient, mostly Zen and Taoist tales. Think of these tales as conversation pieces, as handy tools that you can lift out of your pocket to help you and others talk, think, and laugh about the wondrous and mysterious details of this thing we call life."

January 29, 2014 is National Puzzle Day; I offer some riddle stories to keep them guessing.

A Bride for Khan Turali – Azerbaijan

The Clever Wife – China 

The Enchanted Princess – Russia

Outwitting the Chimp – Congo

The Pumpkin in the Jar – Philippines

The Riddle – Grimm

The Riddle – Romania

Looking for some riddles to share between your tales? Here are some riddles, and most importantly, the answers!

DLTK – Riddles for Kids 

February 26 is Tell a Fairy Tale Day.  Give them a try and their magic will sweep you away!

A Book of Fairy Tales from Many Places

Andrew Lang’s Colored Fairy Tale Books – They’re all here from blue to violet!

The Golden MaidenA public domain book from 1898 filled with Armenian folktales and fairytales.

Fairy Tales by Howard Pyle, 1903.

Fairy Tales from the Arabian Nights by E. Dixon, 1893.

Fairy Tales from Many Lands by Katharine Pyle, 1911. The Evil One Who Married Three Sisters, The Seven Golden Pea Hens and other unique stories are found within.

Japanese Fairy Tales by Teresa Peirce Williston, 1911

Japanese Folk Stories and Fairy Tales - Thirty-three folktales collected by Mary F. Nixon-Roulet and published in 1908. 

And to add to the fun, a book from 1910, Fairy Tale Plays and How to Act Them. While some of the language is antiquated it can be easily updated. The book also offers suggestions on costumes, props and scenery. 

We celebrate the Chinese New Year on January 31, 2014. This year, according to the Chinese Zodiac, is the Year of the Horse, a symbol of travel and success!

The Dun Horse – Russia

The Enchanted Horse – Persia

The Flaming Horse: The Story of a Country Where the Sun Never Shines -Czechoslovak Folktale

The Horse’s Revenge

The Magic Horse – Iran

The Magician’s Horse – Greece

Horse Cursed by the Sun – South Africa

White Horse – Native American

Below are blog posts filled with stories, curriculum, crafts and more to welcome the windy month of March.

The Wayward Wind: Folktales for March

May the Road Rise Up To Meet You

Sláinte mhaith! (Good health)

Women’s History Month: Women in “Her”story

Karen Chace 2015 ©

This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Countless Candles and Gratitude's

Young Girl with a Candle
Godfried Schalcken (1670-1675)
“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive that is you-er than you!”
Yesterday I entered a brand new decade in my life, and while I can’t help but think, “Where did the years go?” I am grateful to be here to celebrate! I am still eager to learn new things, healthy enough to travel, I am never bored, and my blessings are too numerous to count. Here are the ones at the top of my gratitude list:

A husband who puts up with my crazy Irish moods, celebrates my triumphs and supports my work, and most importantly, still makes me laugh!

My health, while not perfect, still allows me to run, to run, play and laugh with my two fabulous grandsons.
My son Christopher who is still the light of my life and makes me proud every day.
A daughter-in-law who is smart and caring, and can do anything she sets her mind too. (Plus, we share the same birthday!)
In-laws who are incredibly loving, and teach me every day how to live with generosity and kindness.
A sister who shares my history and memories, even if we don’t always agree on how things happened. (But just so we're clear, my memories are always right.)
Good friends who are right there to help when whenever trouble stops by to visit, and crazy friends who laugh with me, and sometimes at me, but always in good fun! And most of the time the good and the crazy are all rolled into one!
Work that I love.
Amazing colleagues from around the world!
Stories, always stories!
A husband who puts up with my crazy Irish moods, celebrates my triumphs and supports my work. And most importantly, still makes me laugh! (Yes, I listed this twice!)

Come on and celebrate with me and be HAPPY!


The Bearded Fool - India

Christmas Eve Light – Europe

Filling the Barn – United Kingdom

The Flame of a Candle – Turkey

Gaffer Death – Germany

The Hand of Glory - England

The Red Candles and the Mermaid - Japan   

The Rose Tree – England

The Three Laughs – Poland

The Three Princes and the Maiden – Portugal

The Triplets - Turkey

The Twist Mouth Family – United States


ActivityVillage – Ten easy candle crafts for children.

Craftionary – And for the adults and easy, gel wax candle tutorial.


Today’s Parents - 10 Birthday Books We Love

Good Reads – Children’s Books About Birthdays


From the Huffington Post: 60 Perfect Reasons You Should be Psyched About Turning 60!  My close friends will laugh at number 19! It is so ‘me’!
Sixty Thoughts About Turning 60 – From across the pond, some lovely, true, funny, and irreverent thoughts from Ian Martin.


25 Trips of a Lifetime - Greece, Ireland, Napa Valley, Bali, Provence and Antarctica are definitely on my list. Oh who am I kidding, they are ALL on my list!


Karen Chace 2015 ©

This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A River of Stories

A River of Stories:
Stories Create A Link to the Past & A Brighter Future
By Brian “Fox” Ellis ©

 “Please, I invite you to contemplate an entangled stream bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, there are birds singing in the high branches, a multitude of insects flitting about, worms crawling through the damp earth, and this river cuts through layers of fossil plants and ancient sea beds… reflect with me on these elaborately constructed forms, all have been produced by the laws of nature acting around us…There is a grandeur in this view of life, Power breathed into a few forms or maybe just one, and while this planet has gone on cycling according to the fixed laws of gravity, From so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are still being evolved.”  Charles Darwin

 These are the last few sentences of Darwin’s most famous book, On the Origin of Species. Darwin is one of several historical scientists that I portray. This quote is a truly brilliant invitation to imagine your local river as a journey through the earth’s ancient story from the dawn of time, to the creation of life on this planet, continuing on through to this vary day and the life that inhabits your river this afternoon.

Let us continue this journey through time.

Who has lived along the shores of your river in the past several hundred or thousands of years? Stories allow us to travel through time and meet the folks of not so long ago, not so far away! What are the stories of your homeland? How can these stories help you feel a deeper sense of place? How can these stories of how things once were help us imagine how they might be yet again?

On the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, where I work each summer as the Riverlorian, or resident historian, on the Spirit of Peoria riverboat: 

  • We have 10,000 years of American Indian history. 
  • Three hundred years ago we saw the first French Explorers. 
  • The British chased out the French about 200 years ago.
  • And then the American Colonists flooded over the mountains to clear-cut the forests and plow up the prairies. 
  • Industry grew, as did some of the largest cities in America from Chicago to St. Louis, Minneapolis to New Orleans.
Through all of this, the river was an important source of raw materials, drinking water, food and transportation. The river was, and still is, the source of life.

Take a moment and make a quick sketch of your local river. Turn this map into a time line and make note of the various layers of history, note both geological and human landmarks still visible today.

Several years ago I was commissioned by a local environmental education organization, The Sun Foundation, to create a stage show, that later became a fake-documentary. We used stories to not only help folks connect to the history of the river, but more importantly, we looked at the history of environmental problems in a way that inspired the audience to be proactive, to make a difference within their ecological community.
Because of my work for the Spirit of Peoria riverboat, I had already interviewed dozens of people who depend on the river for their livelihood, from tug boat captains to commercial fishermen, duck hunters to bird watchers. I turned these oral histories into comedy and then hired three storytellers to portray several characters each, adding another element of humor. In a fast-paced, TV newscast format, geared towards teens, each character told their story of their relationship to the river. They ended with concrete suggestions of things anyone could do to make a difference. Because one of my life-goals is to give voice to the wild world, I also included a poem about a whooping crane and a song from the point of view of a catfish!

The video later won awards and a grant that allowed me to give a free copy, with lesson plans, to every school in the Illinois River Valley.

I share this short story as an example of the power of storytelling to not only help folks feel more connected to a deeper sense of place, but also as an invitation for you to use storytelling to imagine a healthier future.

I invite you to:

  • Interview the folks who work and live along your local river; 
  • Translate these stories into literature, performance material, poetry and song; 
  • Share these stories in print, on-line, in video, or live performances;
  • And within these stories create an invitation for listeners to make a difference.
As I ask each of the people I interviewed: What are the ecological issues in your community? What is the history of the problem? What are some concrete, simple steps we can take that will help make a difference?

Because of this work with The Sun Foundation, students are not only planting trees, restoring prairies, and picking up trash, but a handful of more ambitious students are now raising endangered alligator snapping turtles in the classroom to release them into the wild. They have initiated a recycling program, P2D2, that collects prescription medicines, then incinerates them to create electricity, keeping the drugs out of our waterways. And other students are testing hundreds of tributaries each spring for Atrazine, a very harmful pesticide. Many of these students have shared their stories in a way that has motivated student groups around the country and around the world to replicate their efforts.

It all begins with a story.

As folks are immersed in the stories of their local history and ecology, the powerful sense of connection is palpable. Stories make the abstract ideas of science and history personal and intimate. Stories, like a river, can invite listeners to travel through time and help them imagine a better future.

Over view of the video Voices for the River

River Stories

Sun Foundation

Spirit of Peoria

Brian "Fox" Ellis is an internationally acclaimed author, storyteller, historian, and naturalist. He has worked with The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, The Field Museum and dozens of other museums across the country. Fox has been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences including the International Wetlands Conservation Conference, National Science Teachers Association Conference and the North American Prairie Conservation Conference, et al.

Beyond the world of folklore, Fox also portrays more than a dozen historical characters ranging from Charles Darwin to Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe to John James Audubon. Fox is the Artistic Director for Prairie Folklore Theatre, a unique theatre company that celebrates ecology and history through original musical theatre productions. He presents hundreds of school and library programs each year, but he especially enjoys teacher training workshops and family literacy nights in his ongoing efforts to encourage the next generation of storytellers. He is the author of 16 books including the critically acclaimed Learning From the Land: Teaching Ecology Through Stories and Activities, (Libraries Unlimited, 2011), the award winning children’s picture book The Web at Dragonfly Pond, (DAWN Publications, 2006) and Content Area Reading, Writing and Storytelling (Teacher Ideas Press 2010). Many of his stories are also available on one of 12 CDs. He and his wife manage a bed and breakfast in Bishop Hill, Illinois, The Twinflower Inn. For more information visit
© For a free copy of his video “Voices for the River” send $8 for shipping and handling to Fox Tales, P.O. Box 209, Bishop Hill, IL 61417

All photos belong to Brian "Fox" Ellis.

Brian ‘Fox’ Ellis is a guest blogger for Karen Chace and Catch the Storybug blog. All rights to this article belong to Brian. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without his expressed, written permission. Of course, if you wish to link to the article via Facebook or Twitter, please feel free to do so.


If you are interested in becoming a Guest Blogger email me at for details with “Guest Blogger Information” in the subject heading and be part of the rising tide!


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