from Fairy Tales, Folklore, Fables, Nursery Rhymes,
Myths, Legends, Bible and Classics

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(excerpts from posts)
(If you want to retell any of the stories listed below, be sure to obtain permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain)

1) My favorite story about a father and his son is Abiyoyo, an African story told by Pete Seegar- he had a recording of it in the 70's and also later in picture book form. I have told it for Head Start classes with great success. It is the favorite story of both children and teachers. The father is a magician with a magic wand who plays annoying tricks on the townspeople, and his son further annoys the people by going around playing endlessly on his guitar , "plink, plank, plunk." A giant monster comes to ravage the town, and the father and son save the people by means of the magic wand, the guitar and a song! They play and sing , and the giant dances and dances until he falls exhausted on the ground. The formerly disliked father and son are the heroes of the town!

2) Not a story, but a saying that might serve as a hook for a story -- the leaf never falls far from the tree.

3) How about Anansi and his six sons. Each son has a special gift to save the father. Then he has to choose which son gets the magical glowing ball. When a dispute ensues Anansi (wise father that he is) throws it up in the sky where it becomes the moon for all to enjoy.

4) Not a father, but a grandfather--how about the Korean (?) story--there are many variants--of the couple who have the old father living with them and want to get rid of them and the young son asks what he will use when it's time to get rid of them. Details are hazy, as I've never told it. And, Bundle of Sticks. When I tell it, I say the 3 sons took over for their father when he retired to sit in the sun. When they start fighting, father becomes concerned about the reputation of the business he had built up, and brings them the bundle of sticks. How about Too Much Noise? In the end the "father" decides baby crying is really just right.

5) In fairy tales, the father often represents the good aspects of parenting, but usually in contrast to the (step)mother; when the father "leaves on business" or gives in to the (step)mother, all hell breaks loose for the kids.

Truth is, I can't really think of how you could use that to your advantage in this program because it puts the onus on the female parent even more. Still, your question made me think about how frequently fathers are the passive stimulus to the onset of a fairy tale. By absenting themselves physically or emotionally, thus removing their affection or protection, (Cinderella, Vasalisa, Hansel and Gretel...) or by giving a stern charge to all of their children which only the youngest and most unconventional can meet (3rd son/daughter stories such as Firebird or Flying ship variants), they set the story in motion, and, without the story--the sequence of challenges the child must overcome by his/her own wits and resources--the child cannot "grow up."

6) Somehow I was reminded of the new Kwanzaa picture book Seven Spools of Thread. It's beautifully illustrated. It's the story of a African father who has seven sons who can never get along. As he prepares to die he tells them he has an inheritance for them which they may only have after they prove they can cooperate. He leaves them seven spools of thread and they must make it into something valuable together. (The stipulation is more exact but I can't remember it.) They eventually manage to do their deceased father's will and come into their inheritance after proving so to the village chief. They only succeed of course through cooperation, creativity, etc. (the seven principles of Kwanzaa).

7) What I ended up telling this morning was a new story I heard Margaret Read MacDonald tell at the Texas Library Association PreConference workshop: Mabella the Clever. A Limba folktale, it's now an August House 32-page book. Bones: Mabella is a mouse. Her father said to her "Mabella, whenever you are out and about, use your ears, and listen all around you/use your eyes and look all around/listen to what you are saying/if you have to move, move fast! The cat came to the mouse village and announced that the the mice had just been voted into the secret cat society. YAY! they all say. Cat says come to my house and we'll do the secret initiation ceremony. YAY! They go. Cat lines mice up single file (do this with children) and teaches them the secret song:
When we march
We never look back.
The cat is at the end, fo feng!
Everyone sings and marches; storyteller (cat) follows them and nips off the end mouse until she reaches Mabella, then has Mabella remember her father's advice: ears--doesn't hear mouse footsteps/eyes--doesn't see any mice behind her/listen to self (and awareness dawns!)/MOVE FAST! Cat doesn't catch her. Closing: To this very day, the Limba people say, that if a person is very clever, it is because someone (perhaps their father?) has taught them cleverness.

(This web page updated 2/15/03)


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