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Friday, October 28, 2022

Esenwein and Stockard - The Woodman and the Goblins - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Have you ever heard of Goblin Eggs?  I hadn't.  In searching to learn more I find they can be many things.  Pumpkins, hand-sized gourds, deviled eggs, or an element in the mini-game SkyBlock -- which I really don't understand, but those are so pixelated that they look like something out of Minecraft.  

The idea of such a thing, however, captivated me in a Scottish story about a woodman finding and raising baby goblins.  The closest I came to an illustration was this picture at one time, but no longer, sold on  I would gladly credit the artist, but the signature isn't helpful enough to be an identifier.  My apologies as it's delightful and fits the story quite well. 

While I'm apologizing, I'm sorry downloading left two different sizes.  My own copy, found in Wilhelmina Harper's Ghosts and Goblins, has a binding making copying impossible.  It also has a delightful illustration of the poor woodman and his goblins hatching out of their eggs.  The book has another ten years before it enters Public Domain, so the illustration is not available unless you borrow or buy the 1936 edition of the book.  The revised edition in 1965 has William Wiesner's illustrations instead.  His illustrations of the goblins don't have the eggs nor the woodman.  You might enjoy comparing them IF you can locate both.

The previous century had a wealth of books on storytelling right around the turn of that century.  They are also good sources of tales that tell well.  In 1917 Joseph Berg Esenwein and Marietta Stockard published Children's Stories and How to Tell Them.  The first part is the "how to tell" and, after the basics, includes chapters on Inventing Stories from Pictures; Adapting Stories from Great Sources; Telling Original Stories; Helping Children to Invent Stories.  The 50 actual stories are categorized into nine chapters.  The book ends with an additional dozen pages of further resource lists and even an index.  There are two ways to read the book, online at or a free download from Google Books.

I second the editors' review of it having "just enough of the supernatural element" and agree "It is a pure fun-story of a high order."  The "pictures" in the collection by Esenwein and Stockard are all in the mind of the teller and the audience. . . that includes YOU!

So if you ever find some very large eggs laying unattended, leave them alone!  It's probably a Trick and, except for this story, a doubtful Treat.


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 the late 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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