Margaret Read MacDonald (1940-) Biography
Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights
Born 1940, in Seymour, IN; Education: Indiana University, A.B., 1962, Ph.D., 1979; University of Washington, M.L.S., 1964; University of Hawaii, M.Ed. Ec., 1969.
King County Library System, Seattle, WA, children's librarian, 1964–65; Hawaii State Library, Honolulu, bookmobile librarian, 1966–68; Mountain Valley Library System, Sacramento, CA, children's consultant, 1969–70; Montgomery County Library System, White Oak, MO, children's librarian, 1970–72; University of Washington, Seattle, visiting lecturer in librarianship, 1975–79; King County Library System, Seattle, children's librarian, 1979–2002. Professional storyteller, including international performances in Japan, Borneo, China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Poland, Republic of Georgia, Australia, and New Zealand, 1992–. Washington State Folklife Council, member of board of directors, 1986–90, president, 1989–90; Youth Theatre Northwest, member of board of directors, 1988–91, president, 1989–90.
International Board on Books for Young People, National Storytelling Association (member of board of directors, 1992–95), American Folklore Society (president of Children's Folklore Section, 1993–94), American Library Association, Association for Library Service to Children, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Children's Literature Association, Washington Library Media Association, Washington Library Association.
RTSD Outstanding Reference Source, American Library Association, 1982, for The Storyteller's Sourcebook; Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council (NCSS/CBC), 1992, for Peace Tales; Storytelling World Award, 1995, for story "The Lion's Whisker," and 1996, for The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle; Storytelling Information award, Storytelling World awards, 1995, for The Storyteller's Start-up Book; Fulbright scholar, Mahasarakham University, Thailand, 1995–97; Talking Leaves Award, National Storytelling Network, 2001, for body of work; Outstanding Author and Storyteller Award, Washington Organization for Reading Development, 2001–02; Aesop Accolade, and Parents' Choice Award, both for Mabela the Clever; Parents' Choice Award, 2001, for Fat Cat; Tennessee Volunteer State Award, for Pickin' Peas; Aesop Award, 2005, for From the Winds of Manquito.
The Skit Book: 101 Skits from Kids, illustrated by MarieLouise Scull, Linnet Books (Hamden, CT), 1989.
Peace Tales: World Folktales to Talk About, illustrated by Zobra Anasazi, Linnet Books (Hamden, CT), 1992.
(Editor) Supaporn Vathanaprida, Thai Tales: Folktales of Thailand, illustrated by Boonsong Rohitasuke, Libraries Unlimited (Englewood, CO), 1994.
The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle: A British Fairy Tale, illustrated by Nancy Dunaway Fowlkes, August House (Little Rock, AR), 1995.
Tuck-Me-in Tales: Bedtime Stories from around the World, illustrated by Yvonne LeBrun Davis, August House (Little Rock, AR), 1996.
(With Winifred Jaeger) The Round Book, illustrated by Yvonne LeBrun Davis, Linnet Books (Hamden, CT), 1997, published as The Round Book: Rounds Kids Love to Sing, illustrated by Yvonne LeBrun Davis, Linnet Books (North Haven, CT), 1999
Slop! A Welsh Folktale, illustrated by Yvonne LeBrun Davis, Fulcrum (Golden, CO), 1997.
(Reteller) Pickin' Peas, illustrated by Pat Cummings, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.
(Reteller, with Supaporn Vathananprida) The Girl Who Wore Too Much: A Folktale from Thailand, illustrated by Yvonne LeBrun Davis, August House (Little Rock, AR), 1998.
Earth Care: World Folktales to Talk About, Linnet Books (North Haven, CT), 1999.
Shake-It-up Tales!: Stories to Sing, Dance, Drum, and Act Out, August House (Little Rock, AR), 2000.
(Reteller) Fat Cat: A Danish Folktale, illustrated by Julie Paschkis, August House (Little Rock, AR), 2001.
(Reteller) Mabela the Clever, illustrated by Tim Coffey, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2001.
(Editor) Murti Bunanta, Indonesian Folktales, illustrated by G. M. Sudarta, Libraries Unlimited (Westport, CT), 2003.
Three-Minute Tales: Stories from around the World to Tell or Read When Time Is Short, August House (Little Rock, AR), 2004.
(Editor) Elvia Pérez Nápoles, From the Winds of Manguito/Desde los vientos de Manguito: Cuban Folktales in English and Spanish, translated by Paul Martín, illustrated by Victor Hernández Mora, Libraries Unlimited (Westport, CT), 2004.
A Hen, a Chick, and a String Guitar, illustrated by Sophie Fatus, Barefoot Books (Cambridge, MA), 2005.
(Reteller) The Squeaky Door, illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
(Reteller) Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur!: A Palestinian Arab Folktale, collected by Ibrahim Muhawi and Sharif Kanaana, illustrated by Alik Arzoumanian, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2006.
(Reteller) Conejito! A Folktale from Panama, illustrated by Geraldo Valerio, August House (Little Rock, AK), 2006.
The Teeny Weeny Bop, illustrated by Diane Greenseid, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2006.
(Editor) Livia de Almeida and Ana Maria Portella, Folktales of Brazil, Libraries Unlimited, 2006.
The Storyteller's Sourcebook: A Subject, Title, and Motif Index to Folklore Collections for Children, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1982.
Twenty Tellable Tales: Audience Participation Folktales for the Beginning Storyteller, H. W. Wilson (Bronx, NY), 1986, revised edition, American Library Association, 2005.
Booksharing: 101 Programs to Use with Preschoolers, illustrations by Julie Liana MacDonald, Shoe String Press (North Haven, CT), 1988.
When the Lights Go Out: Twenty Scary Tales to Tell, illustrated by Roxane Murphy Smith, H. W. Wilson (Bronx, NY), 1988.
Scipio, Indiana: Threads from the Past, Ye Galleon (Fairfield, WV), 1988.
Look Back and See: Twenty Lively Tales for Gentle Tellers, illustrations by R. M. Smith, H. W. Wilson (Bronx, NY), 1991.
(Editor) The Folklore of World Holidays, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.
Tom Thumb, illustrated by Joanne Caroselli, Oryx, 1993.
The Storyteller's Start-up Book: Finding, Learning, Performing, and Using Folktales, Including Twelve Tellable Tales, August House (Little Rock, AR), 1993.
Celebrate the World: Twenty Tellable Folktales for Multicultural Festivals, illustrations by R. M. Smith, H. W. Wilson (Bronx, NY), 1994.
Bookplay: 101 Creative Themes to Share with Young Children, illustrations by Julia L. MacDonald, Library Professional Publications (North Haven, CT), 1995.
Ghost Stories from the Pacific Northwest, August House (Little Rock, AR), 1995.
The Parent's Guide to Storytelling: How to Make up New Stories and Retell Old Favorites, illustrations by Mark T. Smith, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995, second edition, August House (Little Rock, AR), 2001.
Scipio Storytelling: Talk in a Southern Indiana Community, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 1996.
(Editor) Traditional Storytelling Today: An International Sourcebook, Fitzroy Dearborn (Chicago, IL), 1999.
(With Brian W. Sturm) The Storyteller's Sourcebook: A Subject, Title, and Motif Index to Folklore Collections for Children, 1983–1999, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Ten Traditional Tellers, University of Illinois Press, 2006.
Contributor to books, including Once upon a Folktale: Capturing the Folklore Process with Children, edited by Gloria T. Blatt, Teachers College Press (New York, NY), 1993, and The Storyteller's Guide: Storytellers Share Advice, by Bill Mooney and David Holt, August House (Little Rock, AR), 1996.
Author's works have been translated into French, Thai, Indonesian, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean.
Peace Tales was adapted as a videotape titled Folktales of Peace, Mennonite Central Committee, which received a CINE Golden Eagle Award from the Council on International Nontheatrical Events, 1996; Tuck-Me-in Tales was adapted for audiocassette, with music by Richard Scholtz, August House, 1997; Fat Cat was adapted for audiocassette as Fat Cat and Friends, music by Richard Scholtz, August House, 2002; many other works have been adapted to audio format.
A children's librarian and professional storyteller, Margaret Read MacDonald is best known for her books associated with folktales and the art of storytelling. While some of MacDonald's works focus on individual tales, such as her picture books, others collect tales that are centered around a particular theme or country. In many cases the author adds detailed notes for beginning storytellers on how to tell the folktale to an audience. Appreciated for her thorough research and vast knowledge of folklore, MacDonald is also credited for her "gift of making stories easy to tell without sacrificing quality," noted School Library Journal reviewer Donna L. Scanlon. Cris Riedel, writing in School Library Journal, also had praise for the author, dubbing her a "grande dame of storytelling."
Among MacDonald's notable picture-book tales is The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle: A British Fairy Tale. This British version of "The Fisherman and His Wife" features an elderly woman who is discontent living in a vinegar bottle. When a kind fairy offers her better living quarters, the old woman is happy with her new home, but she turns greedy and soon demands more and more from the fairy. Eventually, the fairy sends the ungrateful woman back to the vinegar bottle, concluding that she will never be satisfied. Booklist contributor Susan Dove Lempke enjoyed MacDonald's version of the story, which "is so rhythmic and conversational even a first-time storyteller will be successful." Similarly, a contributor in Kirkus Reviews appreciated the way MacDonald delivers the tale "in a rapid, comic style."
MacDonald has published a number of other picture books for children and storytellers. In Pickin' Peas a little girl has to outsmart a clever rabbit in order to keep her peas from being eaten right out of the garden. "Fans of Brer Rabbit stories will have a very good time with this classic tale," assured Shelle Rosenfeld in her Booklist review. Mabela the Clever focuses on a small mouse who must rescue her village from a clever cat that, while claiming to want peace, is actually angling for a quick bite to eat. The picture book "is engineered for storytime success," according to Catherine T. Quattlebaum, writing in School Library Journal, while a Horn Book critic praised the manner in which MacDonald "shapes the tale with humor and familiar story conventions."
Another story featuring a feline, Fat Cat, is adapted from a Danish tale of a greedy cat who gets his just desserts. Helen Rosenberg, reviewing Fat Cat for Booklist, considered the work "a surefire hit for reading aloud." School Library Journal reviewer Kathleen Simonetta commented on MacDonald's use of "short, rhythmic sentences and repeated refrains" that encourage audience members to chime in, while Sunnie Grant, reviewing the title for Kliatt, predicted that Fat Cat is "sure to become a family favorite."
Peace Tales: World Folktales to Talk About, Earth Care: World Folktales to Talk About, and Thai Tales: Folktales of Thailand are examples of MacDonald's folktale collections organized by theme or country. In Peace Tales MacDonald's focus is on conflict and resolution, whether on a small scale or a large one. Earth Care focuses on environmentalism and taking care of the planet. Featuring stories from thirty countries, Earth Care "is an invaluable resource for both environmental studies and consciousness-raising," according to Booklist's John Peters. Riedel, writing in School Library Journal, termed the book "a grand collection," and a reviewer for E commented of Earth Care that "Families will also love reading the tales aloud."
When the Lights Go Out: Twenty Scary Tales to Tell contains tales "that will absorb and chill primary and preschool audiences," noted Booklist reviewer Barbara Elleman. To aid beginning storytellers in this work, MacDonald includes a detailed list of sources, background information section on tale origins and variants, and tips on how to tell the story to an audience. School Library Journal reviewer Patricia Manning noted that while not everyone can be transformed into an excellent teller, MacDonald's book "may help them find confi-dence to get started." Other books designed for novice storytellers include Twenty Tellable Tales: Audience Participation Folktales for the Beginning Storyteller and The Storyteller's Start-up Book: Finding, Learning, Performing, and Using Folktales, Including Twelve Tellable Tales.
Shake-It-up Tales!: Stories to Sing, Dance, Drum, and Act Out presents twenty stories designed to encourage audience participating during the telling. The entries are divided into categories determined by whether they are best accompanied with music, best designed to be acted out, or designed to encourage impromptu audience participation. Jennifer M. Parker, reviewing the book for School Library Journal, called Shake-It-up Tales!, "overall, a great resource." For storytellers with only a few minutes to spare, MacDonald presents Three-Minute Tales, which includes almost eighty stories that can be told quickly. The collection "supplies full measures of chuckles and grins, tears, chills, wisdom, and entertainment," commented a Kirkus Reviews contributor, while Hazel Rochman commented in Booklist that the tales are "Easy to tell, easy to teach children and adults, and easy to remember." Marlyn K. Beebe, in School Library Journal, recommended the book to "professional and parenting collections," while Dan Keding wrote in Sing Out! that for professionals, "this is the book that will come through in a pinch."
MacDonald told SATA: "When I was in third grade my mother took me to the public library for the first time. We didn't have school libraries in those days, so you can imagine my excitement when I climbed those steep stone steps … pushed open that huge wooden door … and entered a room full of books all around! I could take a pile home every week to read! After that Momma and I walked downtown once a week and each got a new load of books to carry home.
"Soon my head was full of imaginings and I got myself a notebook and started to write poems and plays of my own. My friends and I could make papier-mache puppets and act out the plays I wrote. Later, when I was in college, I found out that I could just keep on reading books and putting on puppet shows and telling stories as a career! What fun! I got to have a great time every day of my whole life!
"After a while, I wanted to share some of the fantastic folk tales I had discovered with other readers. So I started putting some of them into books. At first I wrote several collections of folk tales. Teachers and librarians loved reading and telling these to kids. But then I thought it would be fun for some of these stories to be made into picture books so that kids and parents could share them too.
"I work really hard to write these folktale picture books in such a way that the reader will read them out loud the way I would want to tell them if I were there to tell the story. This means trying to find language that sounds the way folks talk. To make sure I have got the words right, I read them aloud to many groups of kids. When I visit schools to talk about books, I am always trying out new stories to see how the listeners like them. I get a lot of really useful ideas from the children I meet. Sometimes a class comes up with just the right solution for a picture book problem I am stuck on.
"When I think I have the book almost perfect, I give it to my son-in-law, Tom, to read out loud. I think he is a typical father. If it sounds right when he reads it out loud, it is okay. If he stumbles over the words … I have to go back and work on it some more. Having a friend read your story out loud is a really good way to edit.
"Another thing that excited me when I was young was the idea of travel. I used to pore over the National Geographic magazines and think of all the places there were to go in the world. Now I get to visit those places. I am invited to come and tell stories to children in many countries. And I teach their teachers fun folk tales to share with the students. Sometimes the teachers teach me great stories to share … like an amazing story of a scary rolling head that my friend in Sabah on the island of Borneo told last year!
"Then I can bring these new stories home and share them with other listeners. I'm lucky because my daughter, Jen and her husband Nat, who live in Hong Kong, are storytellers too. So they are helping me develop more wonderful folk tales to share.
"Most of my writing has been done using folk tales. People through the ages have told folk tales to each other, and a lot of folk tales talk about things we need to listen to. I collected folk tales on themes of peace … Peace Tales: World Folktales to Talk About and folk tales about taking care of the earth … Earth Care: World Folktales to Talk About. I am always looking for folk tales that say important things in an interesting way.
"But mainly, I use folk tales because they are such fun to share. I hope readers will tell my stories out loud and pass them on to somebody else. These are 'folk' literature. I didn't make them up. I just heard them somewhere and shaped them so they would be fun to speak. I have put them in a book for the moment. But the story really wants to get out and into your head. It wants you to tell it! Folk tales belong to everybody. So please take one and pass it on!"
Biographical and Critical Sources
American Libraries, January, 2005, "Once upon a Time," p. 86.
Booklist, July, 1986, p. 1620; April 1, 1988, p. 1356; October 1, 1988, Barbara Elleman, review of When the Lights Go Out: Twenty Scary Tales to Tell, p. 331; May 15, 1990, p. 1811; April 15, 1992, p. 1550; July, 1993, pp. 1928, 1981; October 1, 1995, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle: A British Fairy Tale, p. 323; October 1, 1996, p. 355; July, 1998, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Pickin' Peas, p. 1887; September 1, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Round Book, p. 129; January 1, 2000, John Peters, review of Earth Care, p. 897; July, 2001, review of Mabela the Clever, p. 2014; November 15, 2001, Helen Rosenberg, review of Fat Cat, p. 577; June 1, 2003, Paul Shackman, review of Fat Cat and Friends (audiboook), p. 1811; September 15, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Three-Minute Tales, p. 183; March 15, 2005, Sharon Cohen, review of Twenty Tellable Tales, p. 1319.
Books for the Young, October 1, 1995, p. 323.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 1995, p. 147; September, 1998, review of Pickin' Peas, p. 22; September, 1999, review of The Round Book, p. 37; February, 2000, review of Earth Care, p. 230; September, 2000, review of Shake-It-up Tales, p. 44; November, 2001, review of Fat Cat, p. 109.
Children's Book Watch, July, 1993, p. 5.
Choice, January, 2000, J. Gregg, review of Traditional Storytelling Today, p. 914.
E, September, 2000, review of Earth Care, p. 61.
Horn Book, September, 2001, Mary A. Burns, review of Mabela the Clever, p. 603.
Journal of Youth Services in Libraries, summer, 1988, p. 464; winter, 1992, p. 48; summer, 1993, p. 425; fall, 1993, p. 93; winter, 1995, p. 210.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1992, p. 858; September 1, 1995, review of The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle: A British Fairy Tale, p. 1283; September 1, 2004, review of Three-Minute Tales, p. 870; April 15, 2003, review of A Hen, a Chick, and a String Guitar, p. 477.
Kliatt, May, 2003, Sunnie Grant, review of Fat Cat, p. 46; January, 2005, Ann Hart, review of Three-Minute Tales, p. 28.
Library Journal, March 1, 1992, p. 82; July, 1993, p. 81.
Publishers Weekly, June 22, 1992, p. 63; December 20, 1999, review of Earth Care, p. 82; May 15, 2001, review of Mabela the Clever, p. 81.
Reference & Research Book News, November, 1999, review of Traditional Storytelling Today, p. 9; November, 2001, review of The Storyteller's Sourcebook, p. 63; February, 2004, review of Indonesian Folktales, p. 72.
School Librarian, winter, 1999, review of Traditional Storytelling Today, p. 222.
School Library Journal, April, 1987, p. 50; August, 1988, p. 48; August, 1989, Patricia Manning, review of When the Lights Go Out: Twenty Scary Tales to Tell, p. 88; June, 1990, pp. 132-133; November, 1991, pp. 30, 58; October, 1992, p. 132; November, 1993, p. 42; December, 1995, p. 38; January, 1996, Donna L. Scanlon, review of The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle: A British Fairy Tale, pp. 102-103; November, 1996, p. 99; July, 1998, Margaret A. Chang, review of The Girl Who Wore Too Much, p. 89; October, 1998, Tana Elias, review of Pickin' Peas, p. 107; July, 1999, Mollie Bynum, review of The Round Book, p. 110; April, 2000, Cris Riedel, review of Earth Care, p. 152; October, 2000, Jennifer M. Parker, review of Shake-It-up Tales, p. 198; June, 2001, Catherine T. Quattlebaum, review of Mabela the Clever, p. 139; January, 2002, Kathleen Simonetta, review of Fat Cat, p. 120; July, 2003, Beverly Bixler, review of Fat Cat and Friends (audiobook), p. 68; October, 2004, Marlyn K. Beebe, review of Three Minute Tales, p. 202.
Science Books & Films, July, 2000, review of Earth Care, p. 173.
Sing Out!, spring, 2005, Dan Keding, review of Three Minute Tales and Indonesian Folktales, pp. 108-109.
Teacher Librarian, December, 2001, review of Parent's Guide to Storytelling, p. 39.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), June 24, 2001, review of Mabela the Clever, p. 5.
Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 2000, review of Shake-It-up Tales, p. 378.
Wilson Library Bulletin, October, 1988, p. 114; May, 1992, p. 124; December, 1992, p. 33; June, 1993, p. 102.
Margaret Read MacDonald Home Page, http://www.margaretreadmacdonald.com (September 16, 2005).
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