Here Comes the Storyteller

Here Comes the Storyteller by Joe Hayes. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos Press, 1996. PB 80 pp. ISBN 0-938317-25-3 $12.95

When I first picked up this book and leafed through it I thought "This is a book for kids." Then I took another look at the pages and realized that although it is primarily aimed at children, it speaks consciously to would-be tellers, teachers and parents as well.

It is basically a collection of nine stories as they are told by Joe Hayes. To say that it is illustrated with photos of the teller is to understate the clever and copious use of black and white photos throughout. The snaps capture the action and appearance of Joe's telling and the delight of his young audiences. The publishers aptly describe the book as "a photo album of Joe telling nine of his favorite stories from the Southwest".

Adults, in addition to enjoying the stories, will be interested in the sidebars in which Hayes describes techniques he uses in telling stories, and gives hints, tips, and his thoughts on telling these particular tales. In the sidebar of one bilingual story; for instance, he discusses the importance of consistent body language when two languages are mixed in one story. In another story the sidebar talks about how to deal with over enthusiastic vocal participation by young listeners.

Hayes is a teller of tales from the Hispanic, Native American and Angle cultures of the Southwest. For 13 years he has been the resident storyteller at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe. In one of the sidebars he addresses the issue of cultural sensitivity and says that none of the stories he tells are truly "Indian stories". Rather they are stories based on the Native culture and respectfully reinterpreted by him.

The stories told here include a tall tale, trickster tales, a bilingual cumulative tale and nature stories. Thanks to the photos, this book is about as close as one could get to a storytelling experience without actually being there to hear the tellers voice. And guess what? There is a companion tape to the book. Unfortunately it was not sent for review so I shall have to wait to actually hear Joe.

Contact Cinco Puntas Press for a catalog of Ice's many other books and tapes. The address is 2709 Louisville, El Paso, Texas, 79930. (915) 566-9072. Here Comes the Storyteller is distributed by Consortium Book Sales & Distribution in St. Paul, MN. 1-800-283-3572
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The Second Story Review, Vol 2, No. 3, Sep 1997
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