Davis brings tales to life for her young listeners

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2003

FERRIDAY &045; Children traveled to the Middle East by way of a camel named Habibi, to Africa along the slippery back of a python to India to visit a king with dirty feet and then home again to Ferriday to see frogs put on their shoes, all within 45 minutes at the Concordia Parish Library Tuesday.

Storyteller Angela Davis of Mandeville came to both the Vidalia and Ferriday branches to bring stories to life for area children. Throughout her four stories, children and adults alike got to participate and be a part of the stories.

All of Davis’ stories are based on books, some more loosely than others as adaptations. This summer, she said she concentrated on feet for her theme, matching the library’s theme, &uot;Footloose in Louisiana Libraries.&uot;

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Throughout Davis’ &uot;The Great Walkabout Storytelling Tour,&uot; Sherril Sasser of Ferriday played the camel Habibi whose sore feet gave the camel the chance to wear his owners babouches, or sandals. And when the owner’s feet became soar, Habibi carried him on his back. Although called up on the spot, Sasser said, &uot;It was fun.&uot;

And then, off to Africa, the children learned about a python that befriended a young boy and helped him all throughout his life. When the boy grew up to be chief of the village, the children of the village sought out the python for help. Davis’ handmade python wrapped around many of the children who were at the storytelling.

Julia Rachel Kuehnle, a 6-year-old from Natchez, was one of those children.

Kuehnle said the snake really felt like a snake but being a participant was &uot;kind of like you’re in the story.&uot;

As the stories went on, the crowd participation grew. As Davis told her third story, she began to ask for audience response.

When the king with the dirty feet finally decided to take a bath after a year, she asked the children, &uot;Which body part should we wash first?&uot;

And by the time the fourth and final story rolled around, the former schoolteacher Davis even threw some education into her stories.

The children were back in Ferriday, asking someone’s dad for money for a snocone. When the dad (Davis) handed out the money, the audience had to total it for her and they wholeheartedly did so.

Davis said she tries to sneak in education, &uot;without them knowing.&uot;

Davis, in her 14th year as the yarnspinner, captivated the audience and challenged them to read, giving prizes for each level they reached &045; five, 10 or 20 books read.

Davis, so popular she has next summer booked up for storytelling too, even has out her third CD and is working on releasing two books sometime soon.

But her stories will not be forgotten, as she challenged the students to go home and tell someone else.

And so Chadeeja

and Courtnie Green say they will go home and tell their mom, dad and cousins about these four tales, even if they did forget some parts of them.

So hopefully they will not forget to end their stories like Davis did &045; &uot;snip&uot; (holding arms out and making a gesture like scissors), &uot;snap&uot; (snapping fingers), &uot;snout&uot; (making a snout over the nose with both hands), &uot;this tale’s been told&uot; (with a big clap)&045; &uot;out!&uot;