Storytelling Adventures; Stories Kids Can Tell by Vivian Dubrovin. Masonville, CO: Story craft Publishing, 1997. ISBN 0-9638339-2-8 $14.95, 80p.
This is the third storytelling book for children written by storyteller Vivian Dubrovin. Storytelling for the fun of it: A Handbook for Children and Create Your Own Storytelling Stories, also reviewed on this site.
Intended for children 9-12 years old this volume focuses on props which can be used to tell stories. There are eight original stories in the book. Each tale is followed by instructions for making the story's prop, and by notes on telling the story, suggestions for adapting the story or creating a similar one, and a brief bibliography of background reading related to the story's theme.
The props include a storytelling pillow, a topsy-turvy doll, a tiny box, a glove puppet, a sock puppet, a magnet puzzle, shadow puppets and cookies. All of the instructions except those for the reversible sock puppet, are illustrated with photographs.
The stories cover a variety of themes ranging from self-confidence, to making excuses, to peace. They vary in quality. The book might have been better served if some of the weaker stories had been replaced by adaptations of folktales.
In the first chapter Dubrovin says "Sometimes telling a story with a prop...gives you the self confidence that you need for a good performance. It helps you get in the spirit of the story." That seems to be true for some beginning tellers, and I have no problem with props in moderation. I feel it would have been a good idea, though, for the author to spend some time discussing the use of props in general: how they can add to, but just as easily detract from a story if they are not appropriate or not handled correctly.
The stories Dubrovin included are suitable for a variety of audiences in a variety of situations. The cookie story, for instance, might be told to those helping to make the cookie prop. Others could be told to classrooms or larger gatherings. I admit to being puzzled by the idea of using a fridge to help tell the magnet puzzle story. Short of a couple of kids clustered in the kitchen, I cannot imagine the circumstance that would allow for the use of a fridge. The story is kind of neat, though, and I'm sure readers will think of other ways to improvise a backing for their magnets.
Dubrovin firmly believes in empowering children and her books reflect this desire to encourage children to take hold, create, and have fun. Her books are available at bulk discounts for workshops, groups or fundraisers.
Visit her Kids Storytelling Club Web Site and order online at
Storycraft Publishing, P.O. Box 205 Masonville, CO 80541-0205
Second Story Review, Vol 2, No 1 - Mar 1997