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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Jacobs - The Stars in the Sky - Keeping the Public In Public Domain

I said I might give some stories I won't be telling, but match the Summer Reading theme of "A Universe of Stories."  Libraries are using it to mark the 50th anniversary of the first manned walk on the moon.  Last week's the Iroquois "Dancing Stars" is what I will use for stars, moving on to other topics such as eclipses, which I have a great Korean tale, but it's not public domain and unable to be posted online.

Today's selection is a lovely little tale with Scottish roots that would be great to revisit this summer at the annual Highland Games as the "tiny lassie" wants something from the sky she can never get...the stars to play with!  Doesn't that sound like the impossible desires of children you know and love?!?

In his notes, Jacobs notes that the story is originally told in "broad Scots, which I have anglicized."  It does retain the Scottish feeling, but the storyteller needs to decide if words like "clomb" for "climbed" and the greeting of "gooden to ye" should be explained or if it's better to substitute.

It reminds me of a modern tale, Many Moons by James Thurber.  It is possibly in Public Domain as a musical comedy since this statement is at Many Moons - Thurber & Slobodkin
Prior to the writing of the book Many Moons, Thurber collaborated with other members of Ohio State University’s Scarlet Mask Club in 1922 to create Many Moons: A Musical Comedy in Two Acts ( In a letter to Herman and Dorothy Miller on 28 May, 1943, Thurber writes that the children's book has “no relation to the Scarlet Mask play of the same name—1923)” (Kinney, p.355). An image of a first edition copy of the musical is below (image retrieved from Abebooks):
Thurber's own claim of the story version having "no relation" to the play, however, means I'll not be posting it here.  That link, however, is part of a larger site on the book illustrated by Louis Slobodkin that won the Caldecott award in 1943 for best picture book.  The more recent 1998 version by Marc Simont
is probably more suited to today's children even though their parents probably grew up with the award winner.  I love Slobodkin's work for other books, but think the award shows how picture books have changed over the years.  The Caldecott is given for the artwork, but it must accompany a worthy story.  Many Moons is.  Grab a copy of each and draw your own conclusions.  By the way, the site about Thurber/Slobodkin also gives, among other things, the many translations.  I'd love to experience the two Braille editions!

While looking up information on Many Moons I stumbled upon Teaching Children Philosophy .  Don't let the site's name turn you off as it gives some interesting questions about feelings, wisdom, and perception.

That's all for today, but I'm adding somebody new to the "fine print" of online sources.  My friend and, at least as crazy, colleague, Csenge, doesn't give the actual stories on her site, but it's an excellent way to go "Following Folktales Around the World. "  She has worked her way through various continents, taking a book she recommends for each country and telling you about the story or stories she loves best in the book.  Like my comment about Many Moons, it's an excellent way to find new material you may enjoy and enjoy re-telling.
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

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