Read a Story — The Fireflies

Read a Story  Storyteller Mary Garrett —  Stories Make the World Go Around


from Bedtime Stories by Daddy John (Fussner)

(collected by his daughter, Mary Garrett)

One day, some little bugs went out to play. They were having a wonderful time. They played tag, hide-and-go-seek, follow-the-leader, and many other games that little boys and girls play. Oh, they were having such a good time, when suddenly a swarm of big mean bugs came along and chased the little bugs away. All day long, whenever the little bugs started to play, the big mean bugs would chase them away.

After the sun went down and it got dark, the little bugs thought that they would go play. The little bugs could see well at night, that is, well enough not to run into trees or anything. The big bugs, however, c ould hardly see at all. They had to find a good, safe place to spend the night. The little bugs flew around for a while, not having very much fun. The little fairies were out playing in the moonlight. They were having a wonderful time. The fairies love to run, jump, and dance in the moonlight. The Old Man in the Moon was in a happy mood, filling the woods and meadows with bright moonlight. The stars were bright and shiny, making it a wonderful, happy, carefree night.

The Fairy Queen heard a couple of little bugs talking. She stopped dancing to ask what was troubling them. They told her about the big bugs chasing them so they couldn’t play by day, and at night they couldn’t see each other well enough to have very much fun.

“Well,” said the Fairy Queen, “you do have a problem.” She thought for a while and then asked the little bugs, “Do you like to play at night?”

“Oh yes,” answered the little bugs, “it’s nice and cool, and the moon and stars are so pretty that we just love to play at night.”

“I have it,” said the Fairy Queen. “Let all these little bugs have lights in their tails so they can see each other in the dark.”

From then on, even until now, the little bugs can be seen at night, blinking their tail lights. Everywhere, children like to catch them. If you catch fireflies (or lightning bugs, as some people call them) don’t hurt them. Play with them for a while and then turn them loose again so they can have their fun.

This story, and others like it, are in chapbooks of my father’s stories:

Bedtime Stories by Daddy John (Fussner) 35 pages

“sweet dreams,” stories of fairies and nature.

Stories from the Land of Make Believe by Daddy John (Fussner) 53 pages
Dough Doughy and friends build a church, face a blizzard, enjoy life.

Homespun Stories from Uncle John 32 pages
Old time tall tales in dialect: mosquitoes big enough to eat a car, a mixed-up hen, pet skunks

$10 each or all 3 for $25

For more information about these chapbooks, as well as my CDs of stories, click on photo, or “CDs and Books” link, or click HERE to go directly to that page.

Frog Poem/Song from my friend Lucy Grondahl in honor of Prince

Twinkle Twinkle little frog,

Sitting in your slimy bog.

Munching on a Doozle Berry.

Thinking of your MaMa Mary,

Telling all your froggy kids,

What your Mama Mary dids.

Fed you crickets, ants and grubs,

Gave you froggy tummy rubs.

Every baby froggie-poo,

Wants to visit Mary too.

The Honey Dance     from Stories from the Land of Make Believe

One day Dough Doughy was lying out in the back yard, watching the clouds.  Did you ever look at the clouds and see different things?  If you look very close, you can see ‘most anything: fish, boats, faces, and lots of different things.  As Dough Doughy lay there, he saw a bee fly over.  It wasn’t a cloud bee but a sure-enough real one.    To read the rest

Grandpa’s Hired Hand     from Homespun Stories from Uncle John

Grandpa’s homestead was ‘twixt two mountains in a narry valley.  The ground was so poor that the subsoil came up to the third rail on the fence.  The pasture was so sparse that the rabbits had to pack a lunch to cross it.  The well water was so hard that he had to break hit with a hammer to fill a cup.       To read the rest

Storytelling Workshops

Storytelling Workshops

For further information on workshops contact Mary.

Stealth Storytelling at the Upper Grades (Frog Goes to High School) presented at these conferences:

  1. Sharing the Fire in Massachusetts
  2. National Storytelling Network, Oklahoma
  3. Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, Winter Conference, Utah
  4. Northlands Storytelling Network, Wisconsin
  5. Texas Storytelling Festival, Denton, Texas
  6. O.O.P.S! Mt. Vernon, Ohio

How to tell stories and introduce others to storytelling presented for these groups:

  1. •Missouri Association of School Librarians
  2. •Rivers Bend Association of Educators of Young Children

Stories Make the World Go Around

Mary Garrett       For much more material, e-mail me.

From Howard Schwartz —  Keep finding cracks to leave stories in. They tend to take root.

Use storytelling to enrich the curriculum, illustrate difficult concepts, encourage students, and improve learning.  History comes to life, math and science concepts become clear with story, and it’s more fun!

  1. 1)Identify where stories can enrich the curriculum.  Stories can simplify complex material, especially for auditory learners and develop communication skills.

2)  Develop a list of stories and keep track of what you tell to whom.   A list of favorites helps keep track and provides inspiration when, with a few minutes left in class, someone asks, “Would you tell us a story?”  I also make notes in my texts where a story would fit.   A large poster board sheet can hold your lists of favorites.

3)  Share ideas with other tellers and teachers.  Before MAP tests I asked friends on the Storytell e-mail list for  short, positive stories with which to encourage my students.  Thanks to their gifts of story, the students faced those tests in a happier, more confident mood.

  1. 4) Encourage students to tell with story boarding and partner telling.

5)  State standards — “Comprehension of material presented orally” is on most state standards, along with  “ability to present material orally.”  Many stories fit specific aspects of the curriculum.  Storytell Discussion —

Sources for Stories and Information

The Storytelling Classroom by Norfolk, Stenson & Williams  1-800-225-5800

The library, of course!!!!     398.2

Testing Miss Malarky by Judy Finchler

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!  by Dr. Seuss with some help from Jack Prelutsky & Lane Smith

August House    1-800-284-8784

Donald Davis — Telling Your Own Stories, Writing as a Second Language

Heather Forest — Wisdom Tales from Around the World , Wonder Tales from Around the World

David Holt and Bill Mooney. The Storytellers Guide: Storytellers Share Advice  and

Ready-To-Tell Tales: Sure-Fire Stories from Americas Favorite Storytellers

Doug Lipman and Jay OCallahan. The Storytelling Coach: How to Listen, Praise, and Bring Out

People’s Best. .

Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss. How and Why Stories: World Tales Kids Can Read and Tell.

Margaret Read MacDonald The Storytellers Start-Up Book. Shake-It-Up Tales

Naomi Baltuck Crazy Gibberish

Web Links

Karen Chace Teacher’s Porch, Storytelling Links

Story-lovers  — scroll down to SOS and Bare Bones

Richard Martin

Tim Sheppard

NCTE  on Storytelling

Judith Black (historical tellings)

(e-mail if you want more — many more)

Stories can fit various subject areas (and your favorite stories can fit many areas)


“The King’s Chessboard”

Hoja and the Donkeys


“Little Red House”  make prints with cut apples

“Ma Lein and the Magic Paint Brush”

World Cultures



“Hell for a Picnic” (Judith Black)

Family And Consumer Science

“Butterfly Brothers” for child development

“Innkeeper’s Wise Daughter”  (“A Reason to Beat Your Wife” – wicked but fun)

Character Education (likely area for school assemblies right now)

“The Lost Purse”

“Hercules”  Odds Bodkins’ version is part of program to deal with violence

Telling Stories

Storytelling is the oldest of the communication arts.  Stories can add understanding, interest and enjoyment for students of all ages and in all areas of the curriculum.  This workshop will help you find and develop stories to share with students, to enhance their learning and enjoyment, and perhaps to encourage them to become “tellers” as well.

1.  Choose a story you really love!  It should have values you wish to live with, characters you find interesting, a story that resonates with you.  Of the hundreds of stories you find, there will be some you love — tell those.

2.  Don’t memorize; know the story and tell it.  Read it several times.  Re-write if you wish, or draw a story-board of the action.  Visualize setting and characters.  Consider the motivations for actions and choices.  Ask yourself what is important to you in this story.   You won’t use every detail, but it will make the story real to you, and therefore real to your listeners.

3.  Tell, tell, tell!!!  Tell to yourself, tell to friends, tell until the story is part of you.   It is in these tellings that you will find your individual approach, the details that make the story yours.

If you forget to mention an important detail, just tell it when you need it.  Say, “Now you should know . . . .”   Jackie Torrence would smile that mischievous smile when she had forgotten to tell something important and say, “Now I wonder if you remember . . .” Laughing together is fun!

4.  Bring them home safely.  Scary stories have to be age-appropriate, and the ending has to restore a safety zone.  Jackie ends jump tales with “and no one ever saw that . . . . again.”

5.  Keep track of your stories — notebooks, computer lists, files to help you remember the stories when you need them.

6.  Audience etiquette — sometimes it is necessary to teach the basics of audience behavior, attentiveness, courtesy.  It helps if the teachers are involved audience members, modeling for the students.  Actually, behavior problems are rare during storytelling, since students are caught up in the story.  It does help if younger listeners have more participation opportunities.

7.  Copyright issues — telling within your own library or classrooms is generally allowed, as is telling from the folk tradition.  Using copyrighted material in festivals or other public performances or on tapes can be a problem.

Wide-Mouth Frog — One of my favorite stories (just the “bones”)

Little Wide-Mouth Frog asks his momma, “What do mother animals feed their babies?”  She sends him out to find out,take a survey, with a little clipboard and pencil.  He asks rabbit, squirrel, bear  . .  expected answers.  (I always add that squirrels like to bite the green tomatoes, and bears, if there aren’t enough berries, take the campers’ food) — then he goes into the swamp.  Momma Gator says, “I feed my babies wide mouth frogs.”  Little frog purses lips tight and says, “If I see any, I’ll let you know.”

Storytelling Programs


While all ages enjoy a variety of stories, and most stories can be adapted (aimed) at most ages, some just seem to “click” better with different groups. Here are sample programs for suggested ages. Programs can be customized to fit ongoing programs or special themes.

The cost for performances is based on the length of the program and the distance travelled (from St. Charles, Missouri). Contact me for a quote.

Tellable Tales

Inviting listeners to become tellers, this program introduces types of stories, with permission to tell and “make them your own.”

  1. •Traditional Folktales and Stretches
    1. ◦The Smell of the Bread
    2. ◦Noisy House
    3. ◦Magic Doubling Pot
    4. ◦The Stonecutter
  2. •Traditional Tales with a Twist (adding one’s own details)
    1. ◦The Three Little Pigs – my version with Legos!
  3. •Personal Stories from One’s Own Life
    1. ◦Bill’s Iguana
    2. ◦Chimp Show at the Zoo
    3. ◦C.J.’s Lost Puppy
  4. •Tall Tales
    1. ◦Carnival Elation (shrimp stampede)
  5. Clever Critters and Story Stretches
The youngest listeners love stories of animals, and tellers from Aesop to Uncle Remus have known that animal characters make lessons fun.

  1. •Butterfly Brothers
  2. •Coyote Dances w/Stars
  3. •Turtle Flies South
  4. •Ears and Tails and Common Sense
  5. •Grandmother Spider

Life Lessons

Stories can teach lessons on caring for each other, doing right, living well — without preaching.

  1. •The Stonecutter on the Mountain
  2. •The Innkeeper’s Wise Daughter
  3. •Lost Purse
  4. •Pandora’s Troubles
  5. •More Than a Match
  6. •’Possum and Snake
  7. •Tante Tina

Silly Scary (not terrifying – tales with safe endings and laughter)

  1. •Black Bubble Gum
  2. •Red, Red Lips
  3. •Fire Ants and Snake Spit
  4. •Tailey-Po
  5. •Hitchhiker

True “Ghost” Stories

  1. •City Outhouse
  2. •Delta Queen — Mary Becker Greene
  3. •Trains
    1. ◦Ghost Woman in Cab
    2. ◦Children push car
  4. •Victoria on the Goldenrod

Workshops on Storytelling

Stealth Storytelling at the Upper Grades (Frog Goes to High School)

presented at these conferences:

  1. Sharing the Fire in Massachusetts
  2. National Storytelling Network, Oklahoma
  3. Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, Winter Conference, Utah
  4. Northlands Storytelling Network, Wisconsin
  5. Texas Storytelling Festival, Denton, Texas
  6. •O.O.P.S.  Ohio Order for the Preservation of Storytelling

Getting Started: How to tell stories and help others with storytelling,

presented for these groups:

  1. •Missouri Association of School Librarians
  2. •Rivers Bend Association of Educators of Young Children

For more information, click here.

Latex Allergy Information

Latex Allergy

Avoidance is the only real treatment for latex allergy — stay away from latex as much as possible; especially stay away from balloons, which put latex molecules into the air as they are inflated, as they deflate, and when they POP!

Latex allergy guidelines for food — don’t handle/prepare food wearing latex gloves; don’t handle dishes with latex gloves; don’t bring balloons into room or near anyone who might be allergic to latex.  See below for safe restaurants.

Related food allergies — I must avoid these: potatos, kiwi, bananas, avocados, chestnuts. Some can’t have strawberries.

Some who are allergic to latex are also allergic to aloe vera, which is now commonly added to soap, lotions, shampoos, and other personal care products.

Visit for more information.

Dr. Peterson is a kind and gentle and skilled dentist  who has NO LATEX GLOVES!!

The St. Charles YMCA on Shady Springs Drive and the McClay Library at 2760 McClay Road in St. Charles have both banned balloons.

Margie at Gene’s Shoes on Main Street, St. Charles checks with shoe manufacturers to find safe shoes.

Decent Exposures  excellent latex-free undergarments and swimwear.

Customer service  at these businesses will carefully check for latex:


Plastibands, Sanford erasers, 3M Superior Mousing Surface Mousepads — all good.

Here’s a list of “safe” restaurants and other businesses in the St. Peters / St. Charles / St. Louis, Missouri area — but I always check each time I go in, as they sometimes change gloves and procedures. Many thanks to those willing to make a safe place to enjoy dining and visiting with friends!

  1. Casa Gallardo
  2. Cracker Barrel
  3. Crooked Tree Coffee House – 636-669-5282
  4. Culpepper’s  3010 West Clay, St. Charles  636-916-3102
  5. Cyrano’s Coffee Cafe & Dessert
  6. •Dairy Queen – 1450 Jungs Station Rd,
  7.  St Charles, MO 63303 – 636-928-1344
  8. •Denny’s – 3939 S Outer Rd #2012,  St Peters, MO – 636-928-4559
  9. •Domino’s – 45 Charlestowne Plaza,
  10.   St Charles, MO – 636-447-7070
  11. Flaco’s Cocina  8400 Delmar
  12. Grappa Grill
  13. •Jack-in-the-Box
  14. Romano’s Macaroni Grill  St. Peters
  15. Magpies
  16. •McDonald’s
  17. Miss Aimee B’s Tea Room – 636-946-4202
  18. • Miss Sheri’s         Warson Woods,

9967 Manchester Rd.   (314) 968-9995

  1. Olive Garden Italian Restaurant
  2. O’Charley’s
  3. 3995 Veterans Memorial Pkwy.
  4. St. Peters , MO 63376
  5. (636) 928-2000
  6. Outback Steakhouse –
  7. 1620 Country Club Plaza Dr,
  8. St Charles, MO – 636-940-9409
  9. •Ponderosa
  10. •Provisions
  11. Scottish Arms
  12. Sherlock’s  5373 Highway N, Cottleville
  13. St. Louis Bread Company  Not all safe, ask! (known as Panera’s in other localities)
  14. Spiro’s – 636-916-1454. Two locations: Bluestone Dr., St. Charles; Natural Bridge by UMSL (special order w/ Spiro)
  15. Steak n Shake
  16. Uno Chicago Grille
  17. Mid-Towne IGA (Julie) at 317 Hawthorne, St. Charles, MO – 636-724-6500  and now carry Better Life Products
  18. Pappas Toyota‘s waiting room

Storyteller Mary, Stories Make the World Go Around

Mary Garrett, writer and storyteller, tells folk tales, humorous tales and personal stories.  She shared stories with her students at Francis Howell North High School and has since told at the Kansas City Storytelling Celebration, Texas, Timpanogos (Utah), O.O.P.S. (Ohio), and NSN (national) conferences, the St. Louis and St. Charles Storytelling Festivals, the Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire, day care centers, parks, scout events, elementary through high schools, and retirement communities.

John Fussner, Mary’s father, was the first storyteller in her life. She credits him with instilling the love of make-believe. Mary believes in the world of story and the power of story to make this world a better place. After experiencing Mary’s stories, you can’t help but take some of that feeling with you.

Mary is located in St. Charles, Missouri  —
Second Monday Story Swap — 6:30 p.m.    McClay Library, 2760 McClay Road.

— but travels nationwide.You can contact her  via e-mail   and on Facebook

Daddy John and Uncle John books available from Mary.

Frog and Friends and Courage and Wisdom: Stories Make the World Go Around   CDs available from Mary or from iTunes or CD Baby.
From iTunes

Teaching and Storytelling  — Stealth Storytelling in the Upper Grades

I spent 26 rewarding years teaching and enjoyed middle and high school (and for one glorious summer, preschool) students! (NCLB and administrivia, not as much.) Stories helped make those hundreds of classes for thousands of students much more fun and rewarding — and helped students learn more quickly and easily as well.

I knew in kindergarten that I wanted to teach, and my father encouraged that. He warned, though, that “since Daddy is a working man,” I would need good grades and scholarships in order to go to college, and I listened. I went to college with a National Merit Scholarship.

———- (Detour from teaching) ———-

That may sound like a simple career path, but life is never simple. About a year away from graduation at the University of Minnesota, I was given the news that there would be very few teaching jobs available.  The ending of the baby-boom “bulge” meant that schools would be RIFing (Reduction in Force) teachers.

In the 70’s, help-wanted ads were divided into “male” and “female” listings, and most liberal arts female graduates ended up working as clerks or secretaries, which I did, working for Prudential for eight years and learning organizational skills from Lorraine Lonquist. When Prudential decided they needed a woman agent, I was offered training in sales (changing corporate language from “men” for agents and “girls” for secretaries).


What does that have to do with teaching? Quite a bit — teaching definitely involves the same sort of persuasive techniques and telling stories. “Is every author your favorite, Miss Garrett?” “Well, not quite, not Hemingway.”

When I finally found my way to employment as a teacher back home in St. Louis, my substitute work turned into a full-time position at Downtown Daycare.  The director there sent me to my first storytelling class.  It was pure joy teaching those itty-bitties, but a day care teacher’s pay would not support me for long.

When I was hired to teach junior high, I thought I put aside storytelling; those students were “too old for stories,” we thought. Years later, an e-mail from a student, “I remember all those stories you told us,” let me know that I only thought I’d abandoned stories. By the time he sent that e-mail, I had consciously incorporated stories into all my classes whenever I could.  Stories helped with learning and with classroom atmosphere.

I had also begun to take stories elsewhere, to festivals, school and scouting events, retirement communities, anywhere people gathered and needed stories. Now that my schedule is more open (how did I find time to teach six classes a day for 180 days a year?) I can take stories and storytelling workshops on the road — life is good!