Storyteller and Author Cathy Spagnoli Visits Molokai

Lights turned down for storytelling.

By Marie Nowell

 While most kids enjoy bedtime stories, a group of children got to hear a great story from a true storyteller last week. Children gathered on the carpet as the lights at Molokai Public Library were turned down for storytelling. An audience, ranging in ages from six years old to adults, drew close to hear stories by storyteller and author Cathy Spagnoli.

Spagnoli opened with a Trickster Tale about a character named Lazy Dragon. The story was told of a thief who stole from the rich to give to the poor, while having the ability to trick people very well. It was turned over to the audience to solve how Lazy Dragon was able to steal gold from a rich couple.

Other tellings included traditional and modern folktales from China and Japan.

Several stories came from Kamishibai, a form of storytelling that originated in Japan. Kamishibai, or “paper-theater” is part of a long tradition of picture storytelling using illustrated scrolls combined with narration to convey stories.

Most stories are retellings, while some originate from Spagnoli’s own imagination and personal collectables from traveling to Japan and India. “Wonderful support and grants have given me the opportunity to travel to such great places,” says Spagnoli.

As an author she writes to reach children, teenagers and teachers. According to Spagnoli, she has been telling since 1986 and published her first book in 1989. Since then, she has written sixteen books with the seventeenth premiering soon.

Extending the experience, people gathered to play with Japanese folk toys and get a closer look at books and story cloths after the program.

Jeff Gere, a master storyteller and the director of the Talk Story Festival in Honolulu booked storytelling programs for Spagnoli to present in Maui, Honolulu, Molokai, and Kawai.

Spagnoli would like to thank “everyone who made this even possible and for all those who came to listen.”

The Friends of the Library of Hawaii and the University of Hawaii Outreach College’s Statewide Cultural Extension Program sponsored the program.

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