Len Cabral's Storytelling Book

Len Cabral's Storytelling Book by Len Cabral and Mia Manduca.New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 1997. ISBN 1-55570-253-8 234 pp.

Any teacher who has wanted to start storytelling but has been wary of taking the first step will find Len Cabral a reassuring guide. There are twenty-three of Len's favorite stories for grades P-S to 6 in this book, most of them side-by-side with a telling guide in which Cabral gives notes on how he tells the story. He indicates tone of voice, mimed movements, facial expression, and interaction with the audience. Most of the stories also have a teaching guide which lists story themes, pre-story scene setting, after story discussion topics, suggested activities, and, my favorite, suggested journal entries.

Sections of chapters 2,3, and 4 are addressed to the beginning, intermediate, and advanced teller. In this way, a beginner can learn the basics of learning and telling and apply them to the simple stories which follow. As an intermediate teller the emphasis is on adding participation, and the advanced teller is coached in movement, sounds, songs and humor. None of these training sections are terrifically detailed, but they certainly have enough to get people started, and not so much that they are overwhelmed.

Many of the stories are tried and true favorites told with Cabral's own spin on the story. Gunnywolf is here, and The Three Little Pigs, and Stone Soup, Three Billy Goats Gruff, and Too Much Noise. Many of the other stories are not as well known.

The last two chapters look at ways to involve children in telling their own stories, and answer the questions most commonly asked by teachers, librarians, parents and care givers. Design has much to do with my immediate reaction to a book, and this book rates high on the design scale. The cover features color photographs of Len Cabral, and the text inside has a lot of white space making it inviting to the novice for whom it is intended. Cabral is an animated teller, and his instructions in the telling guide might be a bit off-putting to the timid beginner who is not at ease with mime and hamming things up. Enthusiasm can be contagious, though, and if this book can communicate the delight Cabral takes in his telling, then it will certainly bring more teachers into the world of storytelling in the classroom.

The Second Story Review, Vol 2, No. 3, Sep 1997
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