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Saturday, October 26, 2019

Williston - Shippeitaro - Keeping the Public Domain

Today's story, like the two before it is a classic tale found in Frances G. Wickes' Happy Holidays, BUT you will notice the author listed in today's title is Williston.  Wickes credited and gave the text exactly as Teresa Peirce Williston published it in her Japanese Fairy Tales, but the Happy Holidays publisher's limitations on Gertrude Kay to one small black and white illustration misses the beautiful way the story is presented in Japanese Fairy Tales with full color illustrations by Sanchi Ogawa.  What little is known of Williston and Ogawa and more about the story can be saved until after seeing it, except for one bit, the pronunciation of our title character, Shippeitaro.

I'm so glad Williston included, "A Guide to Pronunciation"!  When names of people and places are from another language are used in a story it's such a help.  Rather than save it to the end, you should know Shippeitaro, is pronounced Shpay-tah-row.  (I added the "w" to show it's a "long o", there's also a "long a" in the first syllable and an umlaut over the second "a", but their pronunciation seems clear enough.  I underscored the middle syllable to show it gets the main stress.  All that's missing is the "music" of pronunciation by a Japanese speaker, but this lets you come closer.) 

These three stories given these past three weeks are found in Wickes' Happy Holidays along with the tale of "Wait Till Martin Comes."  All deserve to be kept in the Public Domain.  Just this past week I told "Wait Till Martin Comes" when students asked for a spooky story.  I had already opened my programs, which had the theme of "friends" with a story told in voice and sign language, so in the two instances where time permitted I asked what they wanted and I chose it specifically because it tied the program back to its beginning, letting me add to the drama by telling it in voice and sign, plus it wasn't as scary as some stories.

Similarly I find "Shippeitaro" seems to be a less scary version of a story I love to tell, "The Boy Who Drew Cats" as told by Lafcadio Hearn.  Waaaay back in October of 2014 I posted that story.  Hearn's source is quoted as being "The Picture-Cats and the Rat", but Hearn gave his own spooky touches and a different ending from the traditional one of the boy going back to become the abbot of his temple. Would I tell the two in the same program unless I was specifically using it as an example of their similarity?  No, but I might use it specifically when a less scary story was needed.  When a group of children are an audience and the request for scary stories is made without prior agreement, peer pressure and the inability to leave make it unwise to tell something very scary which some children may not be ready to handle.

As for our author, I could find nothing about Williston, herself, except that she also collected a second series as this initial book was so well received.  In each case she thanked a Mr. Katayama of Tokyo for his "great assistance in collecting these stories."  Her only other book is Hindu Tales Retold.  For both the first and second collection of Japanese Fairy Tales she stressed the importance of her illustrator, Sanchi Ogawa, in bringing the tales to life as vividly as possible.  We actually know more about him than Williston for she tells us he "is a native of Japan and a graduate of the Imperial Art School of Tokyo and combines the Japanese artistic instinct and classic tradition with a knowledge of American ideas and methods."

That wraps up a busy month on the road storytelling and next month I have reason to stay very close to home, but still busy.  I'll let it influence my choice of stories, but more about that next week.
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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