Adventures in Storytelling

The adventures of The Patchwork Players, Patti Christensen and James Nelson-Lucas, as they travel the dimensions of time and space, telling their tales

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Flat Stanley and The Patchwork Players

Do you know about FLAT STANLEY?

Flat Stanley is a character in a book (one that has been around for a long time!) who among other things, after he gets squashed flat by a bulletin board, goes on a trip to California in an envelope. It's just too expensive to take a plane.....A creative teacher decided to give their class the chance to send Stanley on a trip and asked the family member or friend to take Stanley on an adventure, take photos and mail them back to the class. This has resulted in the Flat Stanley Project. Take a look at some of his adventures: He has been to Paris, to the Great Wall of China, to the Oscars.....

Patti's niece, Amanda, in Dallas sent Flat Stanley to visit us a couple of weeks ago, so we decided to take him on some California storytelling adventures. Here is the note that went back to her class:

Dear Amanda and Cass,

We sure had a good time with Flat Stanley when he visited us in San Diego, California. He went along on many adventures.

You know that your Aunt Patti works as a professional storyteller, so Flat Stanley got to go along with me on several storytelling days.

The first was at the Vista Public Library. There he helped to do a storytime for preschool children celebrating Earth Day. You see the photos of him on the Earth ball and outside the library.

Next, he went along with Aunt Patti and her storytelling partner, James to another city and
library, almost on the Mexican border: The Chula
Vista Public Library. There is a photo of Flat Stanley and Aunt Patti and James outside of the
library, and then on stage with a group of kids
who helped act out stories. They sent their
greetings to the kids in Dallas.

On our way back home, we stopped off in Downtown San
Diego so Stanley could visit the Maritime Museum. There he saw the Star of India (a great old fashioned ocean ship) as well s one of the ships that was used in filming The Pirates of the Caribbean. He liked going into the museum and getting on one of the model ships himself (more his size).

The next day, Aunt Patti took him along to downtown Oceanside, where I live, to see the Oceanside Pier. The Pacific Oceans is about 5 miles form our house. He liked watching the surfers as well as seeing a whole bunch of cheerleaders who were getting ready for a competition.

His next great adventure was to go along to a special event at LEGOLAND California. James and I were telling stories there for a fundraising event to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. This is a disease that makes a lot of people sick. LEGOLAND lets this event happen there in order to help out. We told stories to the children who were at the event. The children either were also walking to raise money to help the people with MS, or were volunteering themselves, or had a family member who was sick. They all loved to hear the stories. Flat Stanley also liked to help out a good cause.

LEGOLAND is one of my favorite places. James
and I tell stories there every Halloween for the Brick or Treat event. You can see some fun photos of Stanley as we brought him around the outside of LEGOLAND and the area where the MS Walk was taking place. He especially liked to have his photo taken with one of the Giant LEGO guys as well as the Chixfilet cow.

On our way home, we stopped at the Carlsbad Flower Fields, a place where they grow beautiful flowers every spring. You can see Stanley with the flowers in the background.

We hope that your class really enjoys hearing all about Stanley's adventures and learns something, too about how big of a country and world we live in.

Thanks for giving us a chance to help out!

Hope to see you this summer,

Love, Aunt Patti

Monday, April 07, 2008

Spring is Here!

We dodged a bullet last month. On our trip to Hawaii ,we flew Aloha Airlines. We returned home safe and sound, and on time! Which is more than we can say for 9,000 other travelers who were stranded in Hawaii when Aloha closed it's doors this week. We missed it by that much. Luckily we were able to get back to our regular adventures here on the mainland. Good thing too as we have been busy since we got back.

James has been expanding his skill set of late. He is looking to enter the exciting world of Voice Over work. To that end, he attended a two day seminar on how to be a successful voice over artist. During that time, he was able to do a short demo tape. You can hear some of James' bits, including his original story, the Looky Loos, and the short Tale of a Tail, at: and keep your ears out. Someday soon, you may hear James on a commercial near you. James has also taking to tutoring kids part-time. He has two fifth graders that he is helping with math and reading. He is bringing his JamesaStoryMagic skills to bear in this new venture. On math days, he performs a bit of prodigious prestidigitation, that is he does a couple of magic tricks. On reading days, he tells a tale or two. He uses these bits to engage the kids, and to help illustrate concepts being discussed. He also took some leisure time to participate in one of his favorite social events, The Fish Club Odin. That is a gathering of those of Norwegian descent, and friends. Periodically they gather in Viking costumes to dine on cod, sing songs, tell stories, read Norse poetry, drink Aquavit, and generally have raucous good time.

Spring is here and in Southern California that means wildflowers! Patti took time out to go to ou

t to the dessert, in Indio, to take in the colorful sights. Despite the idea that the desert is just tan and sand, during these spring months following some hard rains, there is now a carpet of amazing flowers. Wow, wow and wow! Takes your breath
away with all of the beauty.

Patti also did some Bi-lingual storytelling with her Spanish speaking partner, Panchita. And more of this to come...including helping to open a new Border's Bookstore down near the border in National City CA.

Along the way, we had time for some Patchwork Player gigs. We were off to a school on Camp Pendelton Marine Base to three assemblies of “Bring Stories To Life”. We told some of our favorite stories, such as, the Queen and Jester, and of course Baby Coyote. With so many parents in Afganistan or Iraq, these kids can use all the time away from stress that they can get. This is the same school where Patti does some social work.

We had a chance to tell stories up in Pasadena in celebration of Lights Out Night on March the 29th, a night around the world where people turned out their lights at home and gathered with others in public settings. We were the storytellers, telling “Not Too Scary Stories” at one of the libraries in Pasadena, close to the Rose Bowl. We told The Roosters Claw, The Golden Arm and other spooky tales. It was a lovely event, and we came home with some new energy efficient light bulbs, too. Can’t beat that.

We also made a couple of trips to The Center for Children ( This is a residential facility that helps troubled kids and teens. We were invited there by Sundiata Kata ( the drummer we have been working with at Children's Hospital for the last two years. Our first trip was for a drumming circle. Over two hundred people, residents and visitors, gathered to play drums in a big circle. This was to kick off a new study aimed at codifying the connection of recreational drumming and reducing stress. Sundiata and his associates led the crowd in a variety of rhythms and dances. It was a morning full of amazing energy. We had a great time playing a couple of Djembe drums.

Our second trip was to tell stories to the residents there. We spent time spinning some yarns and having the kids help us to bring the stories to life. We told “Caps for Sale”, “How Baby Coyote Learned to Howl,” “The Queen and the Jester” and “All Is As It Should Be.” As one staff person said, they were really engaged and interested....if they weren't you,d have known it. And that is the truth. What a joy to share the support of these kids along with the dedicated staff who are there for them each and every day.

We're now in the countdown time as we work in school based programs. Right around two months before school's out for summer and we get ready to roll out Library Summer Reading programs. Let's hear it for fun with stories!