Out of the mouths of babes

When I stepped off the train in Ludwigsburg, I could read disappointment in the eyes of a six-year-old who had come with her mother to pick up the visiting storyteller. I was touring American military schools, and this night I was to be a guest in the child’s home.

I’m not sure what she thought a storyteller would look like. I’m pretty sure she didn’t expect an ordinary, middle-aged woman.

We walked to a café in the town square and ordered lunch. While we adults chatted easily, the little girl sat silent, wrapped in her disillusionment.

It was a cool day. The child was shivering. I offered her some of my hot soup. She took a few spoonsful. Then she looked me in the eye.

I could see something shift. “Do you want to hear a story?” she asked.

For the next thirty minutes she spun one story after another. Her mother was stunned. I was enchanted.

It turned out her babysitter had been reading folktales to her. The child had memorized her favorites and told them flawlessly. She was completely caught up in Rapunzel’s dilemma, Blue Beard’s treachery, and the menace of Baba Yaga. So were we.

The video on this link makes me think of that talented little storyteller. Capucine is French and is a brilliant, natural storyteller. The video her mother made of her at the age of four was so popular she decided to use it to support education for children in Mongolia. You can still contribute to the cause at Capucine’s Library (which also has a video of the little munchkin, pitching for donations so Mongolian children can read and have books).

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