Friday, January 22, 2010

Ballad Spotting: Twa Sisters

"The Mournful Lady of Binnorie: Based on a Scottish Ballad" by Bobbie Pell, a spirited (if you pardon the pun) retelling of "Twa Sisters" can be found in The August House Book of Scary Stories: Spooky Tales for Telling Out Loud, edited by Liz Parkhurst. August House, 2009, 27-33.

The story notes incorporate the ballad background and suggest that "you may wish to sing the protions that have remained in verse. Remember that a capella singing (without instrumental accompaniment) is also the traditional delivery style." (32) The sources Pell provides for her story include the Child Ballad, the adaptation by Lorenna McKennitt ("The Bonny Swans") and Joseph Jacobs prose version, "Binnorie."

More information on the many reworkings of this ballad can be found in my Stories From Songs.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Stories from Songs wins a 2010 Storytellling World Resource Award

Gail is proud to announce that her latest book, Stories from Songs: Ballads as Literary Fictions for Young Adults (Libraries Unlimited, 2009) is one of the winners of the Special Storytelling Resource Categories for the 2010 Storytelling World Resource Awards. More information can be found at:

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A reworking of Barbara Allen?


"A Fair Maiden: A Novel of Dark Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates is published by Quercus, priced £12.99.

Arguably one of Joyce Carol Oates's lesser works, A Fair Maiden: A Novel of Dark Suspense is a novella intricately linked to the anonymous Ballad of Barbara Allen about a young boy who dies of unrequited love for the callous young beauty, extracts of which are quoted in the text.

Infusing the novel with a mythical resonance, Oates weaves a different kind of tale, wherein 16-year-old nanny Katya Spivak from South Jersey is wooed by 68-year-old painter Marcus Kidder, a silver-haired member of posh Bayhead Harbour's established elite.

At first, his interest seems innocuous, even irreproachable, but then he insists they are "soul mates" and invites her to be his model and muse, eventually asking from her more than what she had bargained.

This brisk suspense is a story of intrigue, an examination of class differences and the complex permutations of love, revealing the curious results that stem from Katya and Mr. Kidder's unlikely relationship."

5/10 Review by Trisha Andres

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Thanks to a Face book posting by Ellen Kushner today, I have been introduced to a treasure load of fantasy podcasts at

I found several relevant podcasts for Stories from Songs.

The most recent (relevant) podcast is that of Marie Brennan's Twa Corbies, read by Elie Hirschman which can be found at

A second relevant podcast is that of Delia Sherman's Fiddler of Bayou Teche, read by Elizabeth Green Musselman.

I will be posting additional links as I explore this site more fully.