Tell me if you have a topic you'd like to see. (Contact: .)
Please also let others know about this site.

Friday, February 3, 2023

 Ashley Bryan and Two Public Domain Sources

This will appear on the anniversary of the death of Ashley Bryan on February 4, 2022 at slightly over 98 1/2.  In his life he received many awards and even created this autobiography

Book photographs by Bill McGuinness with  Author Photo (jpg): Ashley Bryan

published by Simon and Schuster.  That link not only describes the book, but includes pages from it and links to YouTube videos of him showing his wonderful spirit.

His official Simon and Schuster author's page shows all 28 of his books they published, including the book where I first discovered him...The Dancing Granny.  I love Anansi stories and dancing and this book combined both elements in a storytelling style that made me want to dance while watching the trickster get what he deserved.  Each listing of Bryan's books also include another link to a curriculum guide.  Among those 28 books is his book, Ashley Bryan's Puppets showing his two-foot tall African-style hand puppets made with "beach junk" (a.k.a. found objects) plus "glue and thread and paint and a sprinkling of African folklore."

When specific stories were used, he gave their sources.  Today I'm going to post the original source of the title story from his The Ox of the Wonderful Horns and Other African Folktales.  I strongly recommend you compare this original from Kaffir Folk Tales with the way Ashley Bryan fleshes it out to make it even better.

An excellent anthology by Bryan is Ashley Bryan's African Tales, Uh-Huh which includes 14 tales from his Ox..., Lion and the Ostrich Chicks, and this story from In the Shadow of the Bush by Percy Amaury Talbot and retold in Bryan's Beat the Story Drum, Pum-Pum.

This summer I plan to tell stories of Friendship and that story will be one of many included in "Friendship Stew."  Next week I plan to say more about my Summer Reading Program on the Collaborative Summer Library Program theme of "All Together Now."
In the meantime I hope you read the many books by Ashley Bryan and also go to the Ashley Bryan Center website for even further information.  There were many tributes upon his death.  School Library Journal used this quote from NPR by Jason Reynolds, “But we throw ‘National Treasure’ around so cavalierly that when you get to know one, you realize how rare they are, and you want the world to dance jubilee in their honor. He deserved it. My god, Ashley, have you earned your rest.”

I believe Ashley Bryan's advice, "Wake up every morning and find the child in you" deserves to be his own parting words.


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

No comments: