Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Newsletter

Volume 2, Number 1. January 1997. Page 4.

Written by Carol Hurst. Edited by Rebecca Otis.

This issue of the Children's Literature Newsletter is sponsored by:
Carol Hurst, Consultants. Bringing storytelling and language arts to your workshop, conference and classroom. ___________________

Glimpses From the Road

My daughter, Jill, is a teacher's labor union negotiator. Recently she said that, at conventions, her fellow negotiators often exchange tales of life on the road that are replete with stories of how they got the best deals for airline fares, the most frequent flyer miles and hotel rooms against all odds. She said, "I suppose you educational consultants and kids' book authors talk about the same things."

The funny thing is, we don't -- at least not very often. Perhaps that's because we tend not to be so great at negotiating deals. Mostly, no matter how the conversation at such get-togethers starts, it usually goes quickly to horror stories: audiences we couldn't understand or who couldn't understand us, miscommunications between us and the hosts so that no one booked the hotel rooms or got us to the right place to speak. The point of these anecdotes is not usually to gain commiseration, although that's always nice, but mostly to entertain each other. As with jokes, one good tale gets the rest of the crowd adding theirs.

Mary Bigler tells about a friend of hers who got picked up at the airport by the wrong host and was brought to an engineering convention to deliver his lecture -- on sex education, no less. She's got another about being asked to be a last minute fill-in for another speaker and being on the elevator with some attendees who were sure the substitute speaker would be a dud. She convinced them she had heard this woman before and that she was great.

Another consultant tells of getting on a small plane at a busy airport and ending up at the wrong airport in the wrong town while her audience waited 200 miles away.

Not too long ago at a teacher in-service, I was introduced by their principal as a tremendous speaker and wondrous author who would be enlightening them for the rest of the afternoon. What a treat they were in for, he said. He then left and came back fifteen minutes later to say he had changed his mind and needed his teachers to listen to him for the rest of the afternoon. Nobody had left the audience and he wasn't there so I really don't think it was because he or they didn't like what I was doing. He never did explain why.

One more, before I go. I was to do storytelling with kids in an inner city school, one grade level at a time. It was a crowded auditorium, hardly an ideal setting for storytelling. The assistant principal stood up in the middle of the stage, put her fingers between her lips and whistled loudly. Then she said, "I want you to sit down, shut up and listen to her." Then she stalked out. Now, there's a mood setter if I ever heard one.


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