Martha Hamilton
& Mitch Weis,
illustrated by Ariane Elsammak,
Noodlehead Stories: World Tales
Kids Can Read & Tell

(August House, 2000)

Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weis, a husband-wife storytelling duo known as "Bearty and the Beast Storytellers," present a collection of 23 "noodle" tales geared for elementary and middle school children.

The stories come from all around the world and feature fools young and old and of both genders. Hamilton and Weis stress that the stories are intended for us to laugh with the noodlehead within each of us rather than to be belittling or critical. Indeed, fortune favors some of the fools as in "The Boy Who Sold the Butter" and "Next Time I'll Know What to Do."

Some noodleheads get what they deserve, such as "The King Brought Down With One Blow" or the argumentative and contrary old woman in "Scissors." Others, such as "Clever Elsie," "The Men With Mixed-Up Feet," "Juan Bobo and the Pot That Would Not Walk" and the "Seven Foolish Fishermen" all weather their noodlehead experiences none the worse for them.

Other stories tell of entire villages full of noodleheads such as "The Wise Men of Gotham" or the village of Chelm in Poland, the location for "The Mayor's Golden Shoes."

All these and more are all told in a simple yet evocative style. The stories are no more than two or three pages long and are easy to learn. Each is followed by brief information that expands on the tale and some clear and specific tips for telling the story.

A world map in the front indicates from where came the versions told in the book. After the stories, Hamilton and Weis provide good solid guidelines for choosing, learning and telling a story. Finally, they provide thorough and detailed source notes at the end.

Not only is Noodlehead Tales perfect for its target audience of elementary and middle school students, it is an ideal resource for teachers, librarians and beginning storytellers. Even seasoned tellers might find a refreshing new story to add to their repertoires.

If you have ever had a day when you think you've joined the ranks of the noodleheaded, you'll find yourself in good company with Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weis and Noodlehead Tales: World Tales Kids Can Read and Tell.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]

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