What are people saying about “Ancient Tales?”

Allison Cox, Seattle Storyteller and Coordinator for Healing Stories Alliance

Faye Mogensen has lovingly stitched together a wonderful collection of tales -and so much of this work sparkles! These stories are drawn from over 30 countries and cultures, from first people creation myths to modern times and across a wide spectrum of religious beliefs. The author’s choice of tales celebrating differences while spreading understanding of our neighbors on this planet seems a more crucial subject every day and this alone makes this new book a jewel.

There are so many tales to be found here that I have not read before (which does not occur often for me after 34 years of telling stories and a lifetime of reading them). Several offer alternate endings from a variety of sources and cultures – like the story from India, Strength in Unity, that also includes the Jataka and Panchatranta endings. Some are told with a delightfully different twist on the old story such as the Asian story of The Magic Spring about the little old man and little old woman with a greedy neighbor who drinks too deeply from this fountain of youth to become the son they always wanted and raised him to be generous and kind.

Even those stories that are familiar to me are told in a voice and perspective that makes me stop and rethink the tale. Which is not surprising when considering Mogensen’s directive in her opening Tips For Telling: “Love Your Audience, Love Your Story, and Love Yourself.” And she has offered so many possible methods to love these tales…

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Kirkus Reviews – www.kirkusreviews.com

ANCIENT STORIES FOR MODERN TIMES: 50 SHORT WISDOM TALES FOR ALL AGES: Purposeful stories meant to enlighten older children and adults in both religious and secular settings. Developed for retelling by a Unitarian Universalist educator, these international tales are short, subtle, and intended for oral presentation. Most are serious and deal with specific themes including acceptance, resistance to oppression, compassion, dignity, and reconciliation. Mogensen also introduces the seven Unitarian Universalist Principles (ideals such as “Justice, Equity, and Compassion in Human Relations” and “A Free and Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning,” among others) and creates indices for themes and these ideals. She arranges the stories in eight behavioral sections, including “Living with the Natural World,” “Living with One Another,” and “Practicing Generosity.” Although a few stories are from religious texts, such as the Talmud or the Buddhist Jataka tales, most of the selections are folk tales, presented here for both their entertaining qualities and their morality lessons. This is an instruction manual for a certain type of storyteller. The introductions provide information about variants or adaptations. The five-minute tales are made easy to learn with story maps, or bulleted outlines that follow each tale. There are questions for reflection, and the themes and principles are provided. The source list, given at the end, provides a starting place to learn about folklore. While the manual assumes a largely adult audience, the stories will work with early elementary children. For the storyteller with a particular mission. (Folklore. 6-10) 

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Andrea James, Spiritual Director at the Unitarian Church of Winnipeg writes:

I have been challenging myself to step way out of my comfort zone and *tell* stories, rather than read them. I told a story found in Faye Mogensen’s book today. Let me tell you, people, get yourself a copy. It went so well, and I’m so proud of myself! After every story there’s a story map, which helps you visualize the story, and let go of Faye’s words, so you can find your own. This helped me so much. There are also great reflection questions, which I paraphrased and asked “I wonder” questions to close.

Thank you for this great resource Faye and Mary Benard (of Skinner House Press)!”