Notable String Storytellers

David Titus is one of the most famous storytellers who incorporates string in his stories. This master storyteller has made a video introducing the use of string in stories as well as instructions on how to make string stories. The video is on VHS and is called Dave Titus’ String Magic. An except of the video is found below. Others who have made videos on string figures and string stories are Barbara G. Schutzgruber and David Novak, respectively. These two master storyteller bear mentioning as they are both fantastic at their craft, skillfully using string in their stories. Like David, they also tell stories without any props. David has also traveled extensively across the world, collecting stories and string figures from Tibetan and Pakistani refugees, Mexicans, and Englishmen. He gives performances in schools and libraries across the United States. (Press Release, n.d.)

This is Mr. Titus showing “Porcupine climbing a tree”. Retrieved from http://www.storyteller-wordsmith.com/html/PR/davephoto.jpg

This is an excerpt from Titus’ String Magic Video. David Titus. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/mtz5rVKfjJ4

Paul Fleischman is a Newbery award winner, for his book, Joyful Noise: Poems for two voices. He is also known for his young adult novel, Seedfolks. (Fleischman, 2013).

He a part of a string storytelling troupe and he has written a children’s picture book that shows string figures alongside the text and illustrations of the story. In his book, Lost! A Story in String, he has step by step instructions at the back of the book along with drawings to make the string figures. The story is of a little girl who loves to make string figures. She would pretend that her figures of a horse or pig were real. The girl became lost in the woods while trying to find her dog who has been missing for quite a few days. She tries to find her way back home in the cold, trying to survive as she did not bring many supplies with her. She makes use of the environment and forages for dinner. She strips the tree bark to make snowshoes and spots the North star, using it as a guide to go home. She finds her dog on the second day and heads home. The string figures used in the story include the dog’s head, the North Star, the house, and much more. (Fleishman, 2000). There are not many children’s picture books that highlight the use of string figures in the story. Fleischman’s book shows that string stories are not just for live storytelling, but they can also be enjoyed individually, at your own pace, while you are learning the string figures as you go. The book is highly interactive and is a break in the regular picture book genre.

Conclusion

Storytelling is amongst humankind’s longest held traditions. It does not matter where people are located- as long as people have a love of stories, storytelling will always be a popular event. Combine storytelling with another human invented game, the string figure, and you will have an unbeatable package. String storytelling is interesting in that each culture, separated by millions of miles and thousands of years have independently created the same string figures. The stories that go with them are indicative of the local culture. In this modern age, we can easily learn of each others’ traditional stories and be delighted that the figures are ones that we already know from our own culture! Making string figures id not hard and telling stories are not hard either. If you watch some of the master storytellers including Schutzgruber, Novak, and Titus, you can see how much magic a string can bring to a story.

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References

Darsie, R. (2003). String games. New York: Sterling Publishing.
Fleischman, P. (2000). Lost! A story in string. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Fleischman, P. (2013). Paul Fleischman. Retrieved from http://www.paulfleischman.net/index.htm
Gryski, C. (1985). Many stars & more string games. New York: William Morrow and Company.
Gryski, C. (1995). Camilla Gryski’s favourite string games. Toronto: Kids Can Press, Ltd.
Helfman, H. & Helfman, E. (1965). Strings on your fingers: How to make string figures. New York: William Morrow and Company.
Holbrook, B. (2002). String stories: A creative hands-on approach for engaging children in literature. Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Publishing.
Jayne, C. F. (1962). String figures and how to make them: A study of Cat’s-Cradle in many lands. New York: Dover Publications.
Press Release. (n.d). David Titus Storyteller- Wordsmith. Retrieved from http://www.storyteller-wordsmith.com/html/press_release.htm
Stotter, R. (2009). A loop of string: String stories and string stunts. Berkeley, California: Regent Press.
Taylor, M. (2000). Pull the other one! String games and stories book 1. Gloucestershire, Great Britain: Hawthorn Press.