Tales of Willy and Francesca
Willy the Wolf and Francesca the Flying Squirrel have many adventures.
A multi-part epic in bite-size pieces.
Francesca Learns to Fly
Tales at Treehouse
A year-long cycle of folktales, fairy tales and legends from around the world for preschoolers
1-1: The Old Woman in the Vinegar Bottle
Copyright (c) 2015 by Michael Litzky
Copyright (c) 2015 by Michael Litzky
Here's a tale that the kids love around Halloween time. Kids aren't scared of the ghost at all because the ghost is scared of them (after all, ghosts are made of clouds, how could a ghost hurt you?). Copyright (c) 2010 by Michael Litzky
I made up this story for some of the preschools where I'm the regular weekly storyteller. By the way, the "Wise One" sock puppet was made by my mother when I was a kid. Some of the puppets are made by Folkmanis Puppets. Copyright (c) 2010, Michael Litzky.
I found this Swedish folk tale in a collection called The Maid of the North: Feminist Folk Tales from Around the World , edited by Ethel Johnston Phelps. This version is aimed more at younger viewers but can be enjoyed by all.
A baby flying squirrel learns to fly. Copyright (c) 2010, Michael Litzky.
It seems that every storyteller has a version of this African American tale. I can't even remember who I first heard it from but you can find it in The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton. The Hairy Man is all kinds of fun to act out.
The many native American tales of Coyote the trickster inspired me to make up my own. Copyright (c) 2010, Michael Litzky.
I first heard this Irish tale more than 20 years ago from a friend of the family. The faerie people in the story are not cute little elves with pointy hats. They are a proud and ancient people and a mortal who has dealings with them never knows what might happen...
My adaptation of a story that has its origins in several Native American cultures, including Muskogee and Cherokee. It's a perfect example of a "Pourquoi" story, a story which tells how something came to be. I first heard it from storyteller Mary Ellen Hill, who found it in Michael Caduto and Joseph Bruchac's Keepers of the Earth .
The Grimm Brothers' version of this story is, well, grim. One day I was reading Max Lüthi's Once Upon a Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales where he quotes delightful excerpts from Italian, Maltese and other versions of Rapunzel. I said, "Put those pieces together and you've got a wonderful story!" So I did. The shortened telling on this video includes only some of those delightful pieces. Sometime soon I'll record the full-on version. The ending is my own.
I adapted this from a story in the Pantheon collection Yiddish Folktales by Beatrice Weinreich. I love the "story within a story within a story" structure. The ending is my own.
In this first part, I tell a true story from Ardenwood's history. Note: in all three videos there is noise from the wind and you'll hear the occasional chicken cluck. Ardenwood is a working historic farm. In fact, if you look carefully, you'll see chickens strutting around in the background a few times. But I loved telling at Ardenwood. The place is a miracle: even though it's in the elbow where two freeways meet, it's quiet and peaceful (chickens notwithstanding). You feel like you're in an island of peace from the last century. It's a great place to take kids.
Part 2: The first half of "The Wolf Who Had No Story," an original puppet tale based on an old Irish legend. Some of the puppets are made by Folkmanis Puppets.
Part 3: The final half of "The Wolf Who Had No Story."
Treehouse is one of the preschools at which I'm the regular weekly storyteller. I really enjoy telling there. The staff is great, the facility is cozy and sweet and they're always working on innovative projects. You can read more about them at their website or read an independent review here. Some of the puppets are made by Folkmanis Puppets.
There are two stories in the video. The first is called "The Old Woman and her Bear." It's a very sweet Inuit folk tale about an old woman who adopts a polar bear cub. The kids loved it when I first told it and asked for it many other times. The other is “The King’s Sneeze,” adapted from a Grimm’s tale. You’ll get to see my favorite puppets Willy the Wolf and Francesca the Flying Squirrel and several others. I hope you enjoy the stories. All original material is copyright © 2010 by Michael Litzky.
All site content © 2011, Michael Litzky