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Barton, Bob.

Markham (Ont.), Pembroke Publishers, c1986. 158pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-921217-02-1. Distributed by Pembroke Publishers, 528 Hood Rd., Markham, Ont., L3R 3K9. CIP

Reviewed by Margaret Montgomery

Volume 14 Number 5
1986 September

Co-founder of the Storytellers' School in Toronto, Bob Barton has told stories in schools, parks, and on CBC radio. He has written articles and books, instructed teachers, been a language arts consultant, and worked at many conventions. In this work, Barton has written well, tackling a subject area where there are many titles published by well-known storytellers and authors. In the book's appendix, he gives a short annotated list that includes a few of these titles, by such leading lights as Anne Pellowski, Jane Yolen, and Eileen Colwell.

The book's six chapters include Barton's suggestions for selecting stories to tell, and for learning them; he does not recommend memorization. There is one chapter on stories that are successful read-aloud, and another on storytelling in the classroom. This latter chapter is called "Uncrating the Story" and contains many suggestions for teachers to use: chanting, chiming in; call and response stories; drama games; acting and pretending games; and storyteliing in the community.

As a storyteller of modest accomplishment, I found the fourth chapter, "And This is How I Tell It," to be the most interesting. These twenty pages are written in a question and answer format and concern such topics as voice, questioning, planning a story session, dealing with interruptions, and building a repertoire.

Throughout the book, Barton has included many story titles, ideas for stories and poems that work, and a list of books that are good read-alouds. There are some new titles and some Canadian titles included. There are several stories written out in the book, examples of good stories to tell and stories that can be used as take-off points for further work with the listeners. Teachers will love these suggestions for creative drama, for story-telling by the listeners, for dance, for song, and for sound compositions among others. The emphasis is on how to choose and present a story as well as on how to use a story's theme, plot, and language with children if the situation allows for further work.

Useful for librarians, teacher-librarians, group leaders, classroom teachers, Sunday School leaders, in fact, useful for anyone who wants to enthral a group of people, adult or younger. This title should take its place alongside others on the topic and will prove especially interesting to anyone who has been lucky enough to hear Barton tell a story.

Margaret Montgomery. West Vernon E.S., Vernon, B.C.
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