Sunday, February 27, 2011

Would you? Could you?

This Wednesday, March 2, is Read Across America Day in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday.  Bookstores, book clubs, and libraries in all 50 states will be holding special reading events.  I will be sharing some favorite Dr. Seuss stories first thing that day at Chocowinity Primary School.  Later in the day, I will have a program of Seuss stories, games and tongue-twisters for kids at the Brown Library in Washington.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wicked John and the Devil

There are many stories that I enjoy telling.  My favorites are the traditional folktales, especially the ones connected to North Carolina and its rich history.  One of my signature stories is Wicked John and the Devil.  This is a centuries-old story, from the Jack Tales tradition, about a cantakerous old blacksmith who outsmarts the devil.  The late Richard Chase collected this story, and many others, over 50 years ago while traveling around the state.  Wicked John and the Devil was actually put into book form in 1951 and published by Houghton Mifflin.  The words and illustrations are delightful.  In fact, I own four original copies of the book and prize them greatly. 

Wicked John and the Devil is the most animated story that I share with audiences.  This week I was happy to share it with elementary students in Elizabeth City.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Imbolc, Candlemas, Groundhog's Day

Today is the halfway point between Yule and Spring Equinox, better known as Imbolc or Candlemas or Groundhog's Day.  It is a day steeped in religious history, both pagan and Christian.  In Irish/Gaelic tradition, it is a day to honor Brigit, or Saint Brigit, who is the Maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess or the Virgin.

It is widely known as the day for weather predictions, to see whether the groundhog or badger will come from its den and see its shadow, thus indicating a longer winter.  In olden days, it was the serpent that was watched on this day to see if it emerged to indicate that spring was soon to come.  An old Scottish poem says,

"The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground."