Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Almira and the Robbers (in Felt)

After my last storytime gig, I decided that my Jack and the Robbers story needed sprucing up. I made some flannel-board figures:


Jack is now Almira (my princess finger-puppet) and the cow traditional to the tale became a camel. The robbers in the story are never specified, but I've made them three animals known for stealing: a raccoon, a rat and a crow. Those 6 colorful blobby things are bags of gold.

Margaret Read MacDonald once said that, after she taught this story in a seminar, one of the teachers complained that Jack and the animals were taking gold that actually belonged to other people. The teacher decided to change the story so that Jack and the animals brought the gold to the police before heading home.

Hiss! Boo! Grumble. In other words: please don't try to make a two-dimensional folktale into a three-dimensional contemporary fiction story. If I ever encounter the objection to the travelers' claims of the gold, I will explain sweetly that Almira went out to seek her fortune. What the audience didn't know beforehand was that the very robbers they met had stolen Almira's fortune before our story began. When the animals scared the robbers away, Almira merely reclaimed what was rightfully hers.

9 comments:

Lone Star Ma said...

You are so cool.

Lady K said...

That's a great storyboard! And might I say, "GO Almira!"

limpy99 said...

Sometimes people steal stuff. Deal with it.

In short, right on sister!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Why are you colonists so spiteful towards the raccoon? After all they were there before you arrived and they lived in harmony with the native red indians. I thought a democratic and kindly lady like you would have been more farsighted than to make one of the thieves in your story a raccoon! Boo! Hiss! Bad Alkelda! Raccoons are sweet, cuddly creatures and I think you should get a pet one for Lucia!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

YP: Who are these "native red Indians" of whom you speak? I know of a wide array of indigenous people, and their skin tones are various shades of brown, as are the skin-tones of the rest of the world. But yes, you are right, raccoons are sweet, cuddly creatures and I cannot fathom why Lucia has not yet befriended any. Then again, she doesn't even care for bunnies and ducks.

Limpy99: Sometimes P.C. really gets to me! I'm all for calling people what they want to be called, but when people start tampering with traditional stories in order to further modern agendas, the anthropologist in me grits her teeth.

Lady K and LSM: Thank you!

jules said...

AMEN to that boo and hiss and grumble. That bugs me, too. I have complained on the blog before about Sylvia Long's complaint in her picture book adaptation of "Hush, Little Baby" that it was "too materialistic." Oh puhleeez.

adrienne said...

I love that particular raccoon. That purplish blueish color is lovely, and I like the white stripes on the tail.

I always feel like I want to trust traditional tales, even when something about them doesn't make sense to me. I mean, there has to be *some* reason they've lasted so long, eh? I try not to change them, especially not for reasons that mostly make adults feel better. (When I tell the Three Little Pigs, for ex., I always have the wolf eat the first two pigs, which the kids take in total stride: those pigs are paying for doing something dumb. It may be sad, but it's not like it's way out there, either, at least IMHO.)

Lone Star Ma said...

I do tend to remove violence when talking to little children, as I think the violent ones are really for older children (who, in our culture, wouldn't listen to them).

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

LSM: This is why, when I went into the schools to do summer reading programs, I told a lot of the older folktales to the older kids. Captive audiences! They can't go anywhere for 45 minutes! Mwa ha ha... cough, cough, oh my, it really hurts to talk straight from 8:30 am to 2:15 pm with a 1/2 hour lunch break.

Adrienne: Thanks! The thing these old folktales don't have that a lot of modern-day stories do have is gratuitious violence. Fairy-tale violence is swift and just (not merciful).

Jules: I need to find that interview. Too materialistic? Rather, the mommy and the daddy keep buying the baby things that break. What's up with that?:)