By Gerald Hausman
Bokeelia, FL, USA
Excerpt from How Chipmonk Got Tiny Feet
as told by Gerald Hausman
Someone said, "The beauty of live storytelling is the words are gone in thin air even as you say them."
I love that aspect of it, the impulse of accidental magic that accompanies a spontaneous act.
But I have heard some great one-liners from children and since I carry a notebook with me on storytelling tours, I always write down what they say.
The other day while I was performing at a Miami library, a two-year-old came over and hugged my leg. I picked him up and told my story with him hugging my neck.
It doesn't always work this way. As I started to read from my book How Chipmunk Got Tiny Feet at a school for the gifted, one of the first graders spoke out: "I read this book. Didn't care for it."
He said it three more times as I read aloud. The fourth time, when he said, "Didn't care for it," I said, "That's OK. It didn't care for you either." He was polite after that and his teacher told me that he got that line from his dad who didn't care for a lot of things.
Once I told a true story about a shark to a group of sixth graders in Germany. In the story my friend is bitten on the butt. A boy raised his hand, and said, "That isn't scary."
"What is?" I asked.
Gerald Hausman (left)
The boy answered, "My uncle was fishing once and a shark jumped out of the water and bit him in the head."
"Then what happened?"
At that moment there was an air raid siren, and school was dismissed for the day. "Happens all the time," one of the teachers told me. "Don't worry it wasn't the shark story. We have real bombs in our schools sometimes."
That said, I can still feel the arms of the huggy boy wrapped around my neck. Storytellers write their words on thin air, but the hugs they get last forever.
Photographs taken at the African-American Research Library, January 2013 (credit: Steve Vinick - Broward County Library).