Books about Storytellers

The children's and young adult books on this annotated bibliography have storyteller main characters and focus on the theme of storytelling as a powerful and values avocation. Everyone in our course is invited to follow the model (The Storytellers) and contribute to this bibliography.

Fleischman, Paul. The Matchbox Diary. Illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline. 2013. 32p. Candlewick, $16.99 (978-0-7636-4601-1).
Visiting her grandfather’s study, a granddaughter is invited to pick whatever she likes most from among his things with the promise that he will tell her its story. She picks a cigar box that contains a “diary” of matchboxes. In each matchbox, grandfather had saved a tiny artifact that represents a memory from his immigration journey from Italy to the United States. From an olive pit and sunflower seed hulls to a baseball game ticket and typesetting letters, grandfather, who could not read and write as a boy, tells his life story. (Contributed by Dr. M.)

Johnston, Tony. My Abuelita. Illus. by Yuyi Morales. 2009. 32p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.00 (978-0-15-216330-3).
This storyteller-grandmother’s life is told through the eyes of her preschool age grandchild (who lives with her). Their daily routine of exercises, voice warm ups, cooking and eating together are charming. (This abuelita makes starry eggs for breakfast!) Then abuelita gets dressed and loads her car with storytelling props--and her grandson is part of this magical fanciful life of story. Latino culture is communicated in the illustrations by Yuyi Morales. In her innovative artwork, Morales uses a mixed media of clay puppets, paint, and collage (wool, fabric, wood metal, Mexican crafts) that will entrance readers/viewers of this book. The artwork is fun, colorful, and eye-challenging with its changing perspectives. (Contributed by Dr. M.)

Lewin, Ted. The Storytellers. 1998. 32p. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, $15.95 (0-688-15179-5).
Each morning, Abdul and his storyteller grandfather travel through the medina (city) on their way to set up their daily business. Along the way, they pass the people selling goods from their stalls in the marketplace. Near the old gate, they spread their carpet, and Grandfather releases the white pigeon, which perches on Abdul’s head. People come, drop their coins on the carpet, and Grandfather plies his trade. Abdul tosses the pigeon into the air and when it returns to his head, it carries with it the story that Grandfather tells. The value of storytellers and their stories in Arab culture is beautifully shared. (Contributed by Dr. M.)

Say, Allen. Kamishibai Man. 2005. 32p. Houghton Mifflin, $17.00 (978-0-618-47952-2).
From his childhood in Japan, author-illustrator Allen Say remembers the kamishibai man. He rode a bicycle that carried a large wooden box with a stage on top and filled inside with candies. The kamishibai man sold the candies and in exchange, he shared his stories using cards he displayed on the stage. In this lovingly illustrated picture book, Jiichin (grandpa), a retired elderly man returns to his avocation, kamishibai man. Baachan (grandma), his supportive wife, makes the candies just as she did in the day. Jiichin pedals his bike and his wares into a city, which has grown more crowded with cars and with shops that he does not recognize. He sets up his stage and claps two wooden blocks to bring the children to his show. Transported back in time, Jiichin remembers the eager faces of the children with whom he shared stories so long ago. Suddenly, he notices a large crowd has gathered. Some of those children, now grown, are in the audience demanding to hear the stories they loved as children. To be continued... (Contributed by Dr. M.)


Wyeth, Sharon Dennis. The Granddaughter Necklace. Illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline. 2013. 32p. Arthur Levine, $16.99 (978-0-545-08125-2).
At bedtime, a daughter asks, “I like that necklace, Mommy! Where did you get it?” With that simple prompt, the mother tells the story of the crystal bead necklace passed down in her family from mother to daughter to daughter to daughter. From Ireland and Africa and finally to the present day, the necklace was gifted to the daughters at just the right time in their lives. Wyeth brings this connection to female ancestors into the present day by giving her the necklace that says “you’re one of us… and forever loved.” (Contributed by Dr. M.)