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The Way of the Storyteller Paperback – January 27, 1977

ISBN-13: 978-0140044362 ISBN-10: 0140044361 Edition: Reprint

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The Way of the Storyteller + The Storyteller's Start-Up Book: Finding, Learning, Performing and Using Folktales
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (January 27, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140044361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140044362
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ruth Sawyer (1880-1970) traveled through America, Ireland, and Spain collecting tales. Her retellings were authentic, backed by scholarly research. A frequent and much admired speaker in the United States, Sawyer collaborated on the Caldecott Honor book, Journey Cake, Ho! with her son-in-law, and noted children's book author, Robert McCloskey.

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Customer Reviews

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See all 10 customer reviews
This has all the wisdom that a lifetime of storytelling can bring and it's all written down for you.
Love Monkey #9
All of this is very good--but in my opinion amounts to little more than a pep-talk for librarians who want to tell stories to children.
Daniel L.
If the novel is good enough, it will naturally sell as many copies as any author or publisher could ever want.
Judy Croome

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Daniel L. on September 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
The handful of other reviews here are not very substantial. I'm not an oral storyteller; I'm a writer looking for help with pitching stories. So my perspective on this book differs from other reviewers.

First, the positives. Ms. Sawyer is a passionate and eloquent advocate of oral storytelling as an art form unto itself. She draws on a lifetime of experience and travel to argue that the art is worthy of an approach by practitioners that is reverent, rigorous, and passionate. She advocates that storytellers study subjects like music, voice, folklore and culture to deepen their art. There is also a fine selection of folk-tales that comprises the entire second half of the book.

All of this is very good--but in my opinion amounts to little more than a pep-talk for librarians who want to tell stories to children. As proof of this I would cite that when Ms. Saywer revised the book in the Sixties she only added two chapters, one on children's literature and another on adding poetry (for children) to the story hour. Telling stories to children is a fine ambition--it's just not one this reader shares.

However, there is plenty in the book that can be applied to other storytelling venues. But, as the author herself admits in the introduction, she has not written a practical manual on storytelling.

So if, like me, you are looking for practical tips on ways to improve your storytelling (and not just deepen your appreciation for what storytelling can be) then you can safely skip this book.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
The literature will help you see the big picture. Life is all about the detail and it is that detail that one has to focus on when doing a story. The practice of story telling is one in where one must too have lots of experiences, such as? Going on trips and seeing the different cultures and lands of other countries for example along with socializing with people. This also includes reading a lot of books and magazines in order to get ideas. Just read it, and don't judge the book by its cover and i hope you get the material in order to make your storytelling in writing or in oral situations fruitful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Judy Croome on December 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
Although Ruth Sawyer's quaint "The Way of the Storyteller" is more a book about verbal storytelling than it is about written storytelling, there is still much wisdom to be found in its pages.

Sawyer's passion for stories shines through the pages and her rich experiences in interpreting the written word provide some useful guidance for authors. She explores the ancient roots of storytelling and shows how today's stories are inseparable from the patterns of the past.

Sawyer talks of four invariables in story telling:

Experience
The Building of Background
The Power of the Creative Imagination
A Gift for Selection

Experience is what gives a story teller the ability to make the difficulties of her art seem simple; experience comes with writing and writing and writing until the techniques of the art are so ingrained they become invisible.

The building of background is what enriches a story; the opportunity to gather a wide and varied background lies anywhere one looks.

When an artist brings his creative imagination to bear on his material and - from something abstract, from something without form or meaning - transforms it into a real work of inspiration for others to enjoy, this then is the power of the creative imagination.

Sawyer talks of a storyteller knowing which stories to select before entertaining her listeners. There must be an acceptance that some stories are not yours to tell, but belong to another who can tell them better. This gift of selection, too, can apply to writers: what suits one writer's voice may not suit another. And the gift lies in knowing which story suits your own writer's voice.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Delightful, inspiring, helpful!
Highly recommended for anyone desiring to tell stories, listen to stories, or just simply appreciate the role of stories in human civilization.
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By McTavish on October 31, 2014
Format: Paperback
So far, this book has been helpful in my efforts to improve my storytelling techniques! It's been around for decades and keeps being re-printed, so it must be good!
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