Telling Tales

Join Nick Smith from the Pasadena Public Library for an engaging virtual storytelling program for school age kids and their parents, produced by Pasadena Media.

#1: Jack the Thief #2: Tom and the Leprechaun #3: The Magic Harp
#4: Paying for a Smell #5: The Cooking Pot  #6: My Dog Scamp
#7: Brother Rabbit and the Lettuce #8: Rory the Robber #9: The Three Sillies
#10: The Cheesemaker of Gotham #11: The Pear Tree #12: King John and the Abbot of Canterbury
#13: The Three Wishes #14: Lazy Jack #15: The Blue Rose
#16: Hodja, the Neighbor and the Donkey #17: The Monkey’s Trick #18: Talk
#19: A Story, A Story #20: Rapunzel #21: The Boy Who Drew Cats
#22: Soldier Jack #23: Stone Soup  


Telling Tales #1: Jack The Thief –

This is an old English tale that could have taken place in the 18th or 19th century. No matter what their background or profession, parents do have dreams for the futures of their children. Some are just a little different…


Telling Tales #2: Tom And The Leprechaun –

Most Leprechaun stories get told just at St. Patrick’s Day, but that seems like such a waste. This one is a reminder that you’re never as clever as you think you are…or as clever as the average Leprechaun, either.


Telling Tales #3: The Magic Harp –

An old story from Wales about being yourself, and the cost of doing something for the wrong reasons. There are many stories from Wales about magic, or music, or both.


Telling Tales #4: Paying For A Smell –

This kind of story is told all over the world, but Nasruddin, the Hodja, turns up in stories all the way from Turkey to the western part of China. He may even have been a real person, but that’s another story.


Telling Tales #5: The Cooking Pot –

Sometimes a story is just about what you want to believe. This is another tale of the Hodja. Sometimes he’s a wise man, sometimes a fool, and sometimes a trickster.


Telling Tales #6: My Dog Scamp –

One of the things that a family can do is to create stories based on things that either really happened, or that really could have happened. This is an example of doing that, created after a storytelling friend asked me to create a true story from my childhood.


Telling Tales #7: Brother Rabbit and the Lettuce –

The African American tradition of trickster tales is right here. After all, it’s tough to grow your own vegetables, if you’re a rabbit…


Telling Tales #8: Rory the Robber –

This is an old Irish story that Nick Smith found in a collection of tales put together over a century ago, and it’s not very well known today. It’s a story of how a clever rent collector managed to outwit Ireland’s best and fastest highwayman, Rory the Robber.


Telling Tales #9: The Three Sillies –

A story about thinking, and ways of thinking that are not necessarily the best or the most practical in the world.


Telling Tales #10: The Cheesemaker of Gotham –

No, this is not the Gotham City of the Batman stories. It is, sort of, the place that city was named after. In traditional English folklore, Gotham was the place where no one in the entire town seemed sane to anyone not from there. They got by, but kept doing things like what happens in this story.


Telling Tales #11: The Pear Tree –

Sometimes, being greedy will cost you more than being generous. There are many versions of this old Chinese story.


Telling Tales #12: King John and The Abbot of Canterbury –

When he was just Prince John, he was one of the bad guys in the Robin Hood stories. Becoming King didn’t make him a nicer person, just a richer and more annoying one. Some versions of this tale include a question that’s a riddle/joke which is only funny if you understand older English coins.


Telling Tales #13: Three Wishes –

Wishes should be used wisely, or not at all. Magical beings who grant wishes probably watch to see how people will mess them up. It must be funny, because they almost always do.


Telling Tales #14: Lazy Jack –

There were many Jack tales, but for some reason Jack and the Beanstalk is the one everybody remembers. I think Lazy Jack is better. He works rather than steals.


Telling Tales #15: The Blue Rose –

This story is a little mysterious in its origin. Around 1900, a lady who collected and published stories said that this came from China, but according to other sources, the problem is that roses are not part of traditional culture there. I think she may have heard the story IN China, but that it came from farther west. Stories are like that. By the way, it is now sort of possible to create a blue rose, by altering the genes of the plant, but is it really a rose then? There simply is no natural gene permitting the color blue in the family of true rose plants.


Telling Tales #16: Hodja, the Neighbor and the Donkey –

There are just so many Hodja stories…


Telling Tales #17: The Monkey’s Trick –

I first encountered this as a song, performed by the great Oscar Brown, Jr. He said he had set a Chicago street poem to music, and versions of the street poem were easy to find. This is the best I could do at reconstructing what the story had been, in its original folktale form.


Telling Tales #18: Talk –

This West African tale is one of several that exist about people getting into trouble when things that should be quiet start talking, or when they stop talking at an awkward moment.


Telling Tales #19: A Story, A Story –

This is how stories came into the world, or at least the way that Anansi told everyone.


Telling Tales #20: Rapunzel –

Yep, she’s named after a salad vegetable. Rampion is the English name for it, but in German the plant is called Rapunzel. The moral of this tale may be: “Don’t steal things for your salad.”


Telling Tales #21: The Boy Who Drew Cats –

A story about the magic that can happen when you stick to doing what you love.


Telling Tales #22: Soldier Jack –

Soldier Jack is from an American version of a much older story from Europe. Jack stories are complicated like that…


Telling Tales #23: Stone Soup –

Stone Soup is a fun trickster story that seems to have been based on soldiers from wars more than two hundred years ago. Tricking your victim into freely sharing what they initially don’t want to give is a common theme in stories all over the world.


More stories coming soon!