On Halloween, Morrisania Library was lucky enough to host storyteller extraordinaire LuAnn Adams. I had seen Adams at Edenwald library in August 2008 for a Summer Reading celebration, and I really became enamored with her work. I also saw her Dr. Seuss storytelling program in one of the neighborhood libraries in Manhattan, as well as her Stranger Danger Little Red Riding Hood story as part of the Children's Literary Salon held at the Children's Center at 42nd Street in 2011. Prior to that, I had seen many storytellers, but this lady is really good. She is very engaging with the kids, elicits their participation, and is enthusiastic beyond belief! She also has a YouTube channel where you can watch her tell stories! She presents stories in schools, libraries, and aquariums. She even asks children in the audience if they have library cards, saying that library cards are their tickets to traveling around the world. She then proceeds to tell some of her favorite tales of tricksters from different countries.
Adams came with her signature table displayed behind her, with an orange tablecloth draped with a black spiderweb design especially for Halloween. Also included were a cute mouse family for the mouse family story, a witch, a troll, a teddy bear dressed up as a bandit, a Trick-or-Treat bag, and a gigantic furry tarantula. Adams also had her CDs displayed, and musical instruments for the stories, including a drum, and her puppets. She was wearing a fantastic Halloween sweater with pumpkins, black cats, and ghosts.
We also had some great audience members. We had a boy Thomas the Tank Engine, an angel with a little halo, and a little devil. Adams also does great voices for her stories.
She started up with her signature participatory dialogue: "If you can hear me, please show me your hands." She has the kids put their hands on different parts of their bodies. And for Halloween, "Put a smile on your spook-tacular faces." She told the audience to close their eyes — she was going to play some music and they may be able to see pictures in their minds.
Story #1: Tipingee. This story is from Haiti. Adams played drums first to help set the mood for the story. Tipingee and her friend Mariana play a trick on a boy witch, so Adams told them to repeat in their meanest voice, "Sweep the floor! Do the dishes!" etc. Throughout the story, the character's eyes progressively grew as wide as apples, mangoes, pumpkins, and then watermelons. The boy came looking for Tipingee to clean his house, but Tipingee and her friends showed up wearing the same color dress, and the refrain, in a sing-song voice, was, "I'm Tipingee, I'm Tipingee, I'm Tipingee too." Adams also did a dance! Her stories have a very rhythmic quality to them, since her vocal intonation is so expressive, and she sings some phrases. She used the drum to close the story.
El Cuento #2: The Mouse That Barks. This is a bilingual story from Cuba that Adams told in English y Español. It is a story about a mouse mother with good ideas and a mouse family that went to the beach for a picnic. First, they swam — Adams had the kids do the frontstroke, the backstroke, and the sidestroke to both sides. Then they went surfing on banana peels. They had a lunch of cheese and crackers, and then they went to play with a cat! "Hi, cat!" "Hola, gato!" the little mice said. Then the cat came chasing after them, and the mama mouse spoke the language of the dog to the cat, which solved the problem!
In another story, Adams made spooky sounds for the cemetery.
The storytelling event was a lot of fun. Don't miss out on future events with LuAnn Adams at NYPL! Check out some great storytelling books at the Library, the School Library Journal blog A Fuse #8 Production, and investigate storytelling further with storytelling websites.