Photo credit: Tony Peterson

Priscilla Howe’s book, Clever, Kind, Tricky, and Sly: A Bulgarian Folktale Sampler is a winner of the Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Award, presented in October 2024. Here is what the committee says about the award:

This award seeks to highlight and promote distinguished titles published in the field of storytelling. It is named for Anne Izard, who died in 1990; she served as noted librarian, storyteller, and Children’s Services Consultant in Westchester County, New York. The two-year award period recognizes thirteen titles, making it an (Augusta) Baker’s dozen. Augusta Baker, another powerful storyteller responsible for training an army of librarians during the mid-Twentieth Century, served as head of services to Children at the New York Public Library.

Following are the criteria for the Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Award:

  • The primary intention of this award is to honor books that can be used with confidence as resources for storytellers.
  • Stories must be entirely successful without depending upon illustrations, graphic elements, or audio-visual media.
  • Collections, as well as individual picture book versions of stories, are considered.
  • Folk tales should be distinguished by an outstanding style, which makes the particular version notable. Authenticity, scholarship, and documentation will be taken into consideration, but are not the sole criteria.
  • Distinguished examples of original stories should preserve, promote and/or honor an oral tradition.
  • Non-fiction narratives, including poetry and biography, will be considered.
  • Books that deepen and enrich a storyteller’s understanding of the meaning and uses of story, as well as books pertaining to folk traditions, aesthetics, methods and study of storytelling are eligible. 

The committee member who sent Priscilla the notification letter said that the committee voted unanimously on her book (and she said she read it three times). Because it came out in 2021, Ms Howe was completely surprised by the notification. Most of the stories were stories she researched and collected while on a Fulbright Scholar grant to Bulgaria. Each folktale expresses an aspect of Bulgarian folk culture, presents characters who are clever enough to avoid ill-conceived courtship, kind enough to esteem even the poorest of neighbors, tricky enough to evade shysters, or sly enough to remain independent in the face of great power. In celebrating these traits and others, the folktales collected in this book honor the character of people. Clever, Kind, Tricky, and Sly: A Bulgarian Folktale Sampler, published by ‎ Parkhurst Brothers Publishers Inc is available in book stores and on Amazon.

A few years ago Priscilla received the International Story Bridge Oracle Award at the National Storytelling Summit in Fremont, California. This award recognizes the exemplary work, dedication and spirit of those individuals or groups that promote the art of storytelling in their own country or promote the building of bridges between their country and other countries through the use of storytelling and/or storytelling events. Howe lives in Lawrence, Kansas and travels around the world telling stories to listeners of all ages. She began storytelling as a children’s librarian in Middletown, CT in 1988, before leaving her job in 1993 to move to Lawrence to be a full-time storyteller. She has performed folktales, stories from books and her own stories around the US and in China, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Belgium, Germany, Romania and Bulgaria. She tells stories primarily in English, specializing in stories for English Language Learners, though she has also performed in French and Bulgarian.

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