________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 14 . . . . March 7, 2008


Painted Imagination. Aaron Bell, Ojibway Storyteller.

Aaron Bell.
Brantford, ON: Charing Cross Music & Sound (Go to www.ojibwaystoryteller.com for ordering information), 2006.
1 CD, 61 min. $25.00 (Plus shipping and handling).

Grades 2-6 / Ages 7-11.

Review by Gail de Vos.

**½ /4


All the stories on this CD are created in my own way; however, they do not belong to me. They are my own interpretation of stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. They belong to the Nations from which they came, for the new faces to come.

The reason I called this CD Painted Imagination is mainly because of my own children. I see their eyes when I share these stories and I realized that the words I was sharing were becoming a part of who they are as people. Since I have been a visual artist (sometimes still do), I felt that this would be the perfect name for this CD. Having the help of my children made it perfect in my heart. (From the storyteller's notes available upon request).

And the voices of his (or someone's) children accompany the seven stories told by Aaron Bell as they provide the introductions, the links, and sometimes the active participation in the stories.

     The recording begins with a brief opening, mostly instrumental, of flute, chants and drums, before the stories begin. The storytelling session as represented by the CD as a whole, however, does not smoothly follow this opening for this listener as it set a tone quite different from most of the stories and the way they were told. There is no similar closing to the story collection although Bell ends with a spiritual tale that may be related to the various pieces in this opening segment.

     The first story, "Iroquois Creations," tells about Skywoman's journey to the new world and the efforts of the animals to obtain earth for her and her unborn child to create land on the back of the great turtle. This is followed by several pourquoi stories: the Anishinabe (Ojibway) variant of "How Bear Lost His Tail," Bell's Anishinabe's version of the Iroquois tale "How Butterflies Got Their Colours," "How Turtle Got His Shell," "How Nanobusho Stole Fire," and "How Bees Got their Stingers." The final story is told much more earnestly then the pourquoi tales and is a story given to Bell from the Six Nations of the Grand River, "The Gift of Spirit."

     Bell's storytelling is exuberant, his voice pleasant, comforting and transporting to the listener. His unexpected surges of volume in parts of the stories, however, often threw me out of the story world he had created for me, and it took concerted effort to regain my place. That being said, there is a joy in the sharing that is evident throughout the CD. Bell interweaves information about the cultures and traditions mentioned in the stories for those listeners who may not be familiar with the teachings and these tales, making this a welcome addition to collections of First Nation stories for school and public libraries.

     The teaching handout contains questions and answers that could accompany the individual stories if used in the classroom.


Gail de Vos teaches at the School of Library and Information Studies for the University of Alberta and is the author of seven books on storytelling and folklore.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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