Thursday, March 29, 2007

Three Ninety Eight Thursdays Go to India

My Write Away! pen pal club will learn about India next month, so I've been reading Indian folktales. I found two fantastic ones recently that I'd like to tell you about.

Souhami, Jessica. No Dinner! The Story of the Old Woman and the Pumpkin. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1999.

An old woman lives with her dog at the edge of a forest. Her granddaughter lives at the other edge of the forest. The old woman may be a bit frail and may need the use of a cane, but nothing is going to stop her from visiting her granddaughter, not even a forest filled with "fierce, hungry animals."

A wolf jumps in front of the old woman. He threatens to eat her. It would be better for him to wait until she returns from her granddaughter's house, where she'll feast until her belly is quite full. The wolf lets her go, but warns her to not dawdle.

She meets up with a bear and a tiger, and the scene repeats itself. She safely makes it to her granddaughter's home, where she eats herself silly. How will she return home safely?

What a fun story to select for a preschool storytime! The font is solid and strong, easily read when you're reading aloud and showing the pictures at once. If you read it enough times, you can memorize key parts of the story.

This story is ideal for storytelling (telling the story without presenting the book). You have your events in 3s (wolf, bear, and tiger), and the dialogue remains the same for each encounter. Dialogue is kept to a minimum. There's ample opportunity to ham it up. Neat thing #3: This is one of those "strong woman/warrior woman" folktales, with a positive old woman character (i.e. not a witch or sorceress). I am looking forward to telling this story next month.

Thornhill, Jan. The Rumor: A Jataka Tale From India. Toronto: Maple Tree Press, 2002.

This is a tale about the dangers of spreading rumors. One animal tells another that the world is breaking up. That animal panickly tells another animal, and so on and so on, until the crazed running animals bump into Lion.

Lion demands to know what the fuss is all about, and gets down to the matter of finding out the source of the rumor.

This is a *fun* tale to read aloud or tell. If you enjoy creating animal voices, this is your story. The tale gets the message across with much humor.

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