Monday, May 03, 2010

Baby stories

I wanted an excuse to post this picture. I was pruning the yew this afternoon when I realized this nest was there. I stopped immediately. I hope mother and babies aren't too traumatized.

In fact, I want to talk about baby stories. By that, I don't mean stories for babies. I mean the four stories I tell about the inimitable brave baby in The ghost with the one black eye. I've performed them for audiences of all ages, from preschoolers to highschoolers to college kids to nonagenarians. These are the most-requested stories I tell.

One theory I have is that these stories, in which the baby is the bravest character of all, give the listeners--especially children--a feeling of vicarious power. There's also a great release of laughter at the end of the stories. I've learned to channel the explosion of energy after The ghost, by inviting the kids to repeat the three important lines together, with me. If I don't do that, they spend the next five minutes telling bits of the story to each other, ignoring me completely. Sometimes I retell that very physical story in French or Bulgarian to let kids know that telling a story is more than just saying the words, and that they could learn a foreign language, too. It's fun to see them join in the telling in another language.

I've heard from teachers that kids retell The ghost to each other for the next week, on the playground, in the lunchroom, at home.

I didn't write these campfire tales. They're from children's folklore, similar to handclapping games and counting out rhymes. I first heard The ghost from my friend Mike Rundle, who heard it from somebody else, and on back to the first kid who made it up. Of course, I've tweaked it and shaped it to fit my own personality.


Yvonne Healy said...

Tha wonder child archetype is empowering. The earliest version I tell is Hermes besting Apollo but I'm sure it's way older than that. That might be a fun story for you to tell, too.

Deb said...

What a great photo! It must have been a thrill to find that crowd of big mouths in your yew.