For the past 10 weeks I've been working with a group of Kindergartners. Every Friday for one hour, we work out the kinks in a story that they will be group-telling for a live audience in just a few days. The story is one of my favorites, featuring one of my favorite tricksters of all times: Anansi the Spider! You can see them up above, creating their own spider web with one of my many spare balls of yarn. I was so sure this game wouldn't work, but by golly, they made a great web!
It's weird that I adore Anansi, when I can't stand spiders. Fact is, other than being a spider, I can relate to him. He loves to eat, is constantly getting in trouble, but some
times comes up with great ideas that benefit all of humanity. What's not to love?!
(illustration by Gerald McDermott)
The story of "Anansi's Talented Children" is interesting in part because it is episodic; however the big draw is the six kids themselves. Their father at first fails to appreciate their unique and unusual talents, until they save his life. The fun of "group-telling" this story is that each kid gets to play the part of one of the characters, while I narrate. This means that everybody gets an opportunity to participate, and to have their 30 seconds of fame which, for most kids, is usually sufficient! (The little girl who is playing Nyame the Sky God really wanted to be a princess, but is being a good sport about playing the role of an all-powerful cosmos-altering deity instead. You can't have everything!)