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Talbot Tellers add personal touch to tales

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By Bethany Hofstetter
Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 8:51 p.m.

The Talbot Tellers storytelling group plans to entertain the community with a unique collection of holiday stories in a new December program at the Hampton Community Library.

The library's Talbot Tellers was born out of the Savvy Cinderella Storytelling program in the Hampton Township School District. The goal of the program is to empower middle school-age girls through teaching the art of storytelling, with a focus on stories in which the female characters are strong, clever and brave.

“We thought it would be a great idea,” said Lori Ridenour, Hampton Community Library children's outreach librarian, who worked with Suzanna Krispli, the library director, to expand the school district's program into the Talbot Tellers.

“It helps with self-esteem and communication skills.”

The Talbot Tellers debuted in their first storytelling performance during the summer reading program, and six middle school girls will participate in the library's first “Winter Nights — A Celebration of Holiday Stories” program on Thursday, Dec. 13.

As Ridenour and the Talbot Tellers worked to organize the event, they decided to return to a more personal approach to storytelling by choosing family holiday stories.

“That's part of the art of storytelling,” Ridenour said. “That's how history was passed down through stories.”

Emily McCutchan, eighth-grader at Hampton Middle School, plans to tell a family story about a Christmas Eve when her father's dog ripped the wrapping paper off of all the gifts and destroyed the Christmas tree when left unattended.

Her father had to use a yard rake to clean up the mess and rewrap all of the presents before his parents got home.

“I like how we're learning how to do stories, but it's personal,” McCutchan said of the Talbot Tellers. “My family has a large wealth of funny stories because we come from a unique experience where it's not uncommon for things like that to happen.”

The Talbot Tellers performers, which in addition to Emily include Eileen Bates, Sofia DeNiz, Maggie Doan, Kaitlin Raidna and Annie Stewart, have been working for a couple of months to perfect their storytelling techniques for the Dec. 13 event.

The storytellers have worked to develop their stories, add more description to the scenes and concentrate on voice inflection.

“I find every story to be a different experience with playing around with the different things in the story to make it sound right,” said Eileen, seventh-grader at Hampton Middle School, who will tell the story “Water and Salt,” an Italian folk tale about a wise daughter who shows her father how much she loves him.

Ridenour said she sees the group becoming a big part of the library's programming and hopes the Talbot Tellers will continue to grow in numbers and in their confidence as they develop their storytelling abilities. Her goal is to expand the Talbot Tellers to be able to perform more in the community.

“I think they could really shine and bring some joy to people,” she said.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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