A quest for knowledge through the lens of picture books. Focusing on the mythological, the spiritual and the socially progressive in stories and storytelling.
The revolution will be illustrated.
Currently under some construction and re-organization! New content soon!
When I reviewed Esther's Story last year, I had no idea that its author, Diane Wolkstein, was such an accomplished storyteller. By friending her on Facebook, I was to receive all of her updates as she traveled all across the world performing a piece called The Monkey King. I was saddened to find the notice of her sudden death the other day.
Diane Wolkstein is more than a storyteller. She is an interpreter of life. Since 1967, Diane has occupied a unique place in the world of storytelling and literature. Through her performances, teaching, books, and recordings, she has played a major role in the renewed interest in mythology and the modern storytelling movement. Whether recounting epics, trickster stories or fairy tales, Diane enters and speaks from the heart of each story she tells.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg named June 22nd, 2007 “Diane Wolkstein Day” in honor of her 40 years of service to New York City where she initiated America’s first graduate storytelling program, pioneered a year–round storytelling program for parks and schools, hosted her own radio show on WNYC–AM/FM Radio, and taught mythology at New York University, the New School, and Sarah Lawrence. Diane has performed at the United Nations, Lincoln Center, the Smithsonian Institute, the American Museum of Natural History, and has been a frequent guest on PBS, NPR, and the BBC.
A message from Diane's daughter, Rachel:
"It is with profound sadness that I tell you that my
mother, Diane Wolkstein, passed away very early this morning in Taiwan. She had
had emergency heart surgery but the procedure was not sufficient to allow her
heart to work on its own. She was not conscious and she was not alone. She had
several of her close friends from Taiwan there with her and at the very end she
had a rabbi say kaddish and Buddhist prayers were said as well. Her death is a
terrible shock. Her life overflowed with joy, intensity, friendship, love and
spirit. Her love for each of us and the stories she told live inside of us
forever." —Rachel Zucker
Diane Wolkstein, world-renowned storyteller,
folklorist, mythologist and author of many books for children and adults, died
following emergency heart surgery on January 31 while on a trip to Taiwan
working on her most recent project, the Chinese epic story of Monkey King or
Journey to the West.
Diane was the author of 23 books of folklore and performed
to sold-out crowds throughout the world. What set Diane apart as a storyteller
are her performing gifts as well as the depth of knowledge and research she
devoted to the stories she told. Diane’s collection, The Magic Orange Tree, was
the result of numerous visits to Haiti during which Diane recorded stories told
on porches and in late-night gatherings. In Australia, Diane met Aboriginal storytellers
who granted her special permission to tell their stories. Wolkstein spent years
working with Samuel Noah Kramer, one of the world’s pre-eminent archeologists,
to create the definitive telling of the great Sumerian epic, Inanna, Queen of
Heaven and Earth, which she performed at the United Nations and the British
Museum. Because of Diane’s work, Inanna has become an influential text in
feminist studies and studies of ancient history.
Diane’s belief in story and its potential to transform
people’s lives propelled her to the forefront of the modern storytelling
movement as early as 1967, when she joined the New York City’s Department of
Parks & Recreation and started a year–round storytelling program for the
city’s parks and schools. Diane initiated America’s first graduate storytelling
program at Bank Street College of Education and was a regular visiting teacher
of mythology at New York University for 18 years. She is a founding member of
both America’s National Storytelling Conference and the Storytelling Center of
New York City, and has held hundreds of workshops on the art of storytelling
throughout her long career. For thirteen years Diane’s radio show, Stories from
Many Lands, was broadcast on WNYC–AM/FM bi–weekly, and in 2007 New York City
Mayor Michael Bloomberg named June 22nd of that year “Diane Wolkstein Day” in
honor of Diane’s 40 years of storytelling for the people of New York City.
New York City’s children gathered at the foot of the statue
of Hans Christian Andersen in Central Park to hear Diane tell stories every
Saturday for more than forty summers. The culminating event of the storytelling
season was her telling of Elsie Piddock Skips in her Sleep and the skip rope
competition that followed.
Please keep Diane and her family in your prayers. She
contributed much to women's studies, feminist studies, and taught much to those
exploring the Goddess Inanna.
Her work in the world seeded many minds across the globe to bring
non-traditional myths to the masses. She was truly a contemporary bard.
May Goddess Embrace Diane in her Golden Wings,