Last night Scott and I stood in the hall, listening to the belly laughs coming from inside the bedroom shared by Rose, Beanie, and Rilla. They were listening to our Jay O’Callahan story CD, evidently for the first time in a long while, because it seemed the tales were all new to Rilla. Her peals of laughter enchanted us; we couldn’t tear ourselves away. Later, I tweeted about it and I was going to include a link to my O’Callahan post—I knew I’d written one years ago—as a frame of reference.
That post is actually as much about the wonderful Jim Weiss, whom we adore, as it is about Jay O’Callahan. Here’s the O’Callahan part:
I first encountered his work the summer before my sophomore year in college, when I was a camp counselor at a theater camp in Missoula, Montana. One of the girls brought a story tape with her and I remember the girls—this was the high-school bunk, not the younger set I was in charge of—laughing their heads off over a story about two children who encounter the King of the Raisins in a strange underworld. Half-remembered phrases from the story were still haunting me almost twenty years later when I began this blog. I posted a plea with a vague description of the story—
The raisins are amiable enough despite their aversion to the strange wiggling things at the end of the children’s arms—
“What you got there, worms?”
“No, they’re fingers! See?”
(Sound of raisins screaming.) “Ahhhh! Horrible, horrible! But I like you anyway.”
And a short while later, the marvelous Lesley Austin of Small Meadow Press chimed in with the answer I’d been seeking so many years: the storyteller we were looking for was named Jay O’Callahan. I Googled accordingly, and there he was. The Raisins story is on his Little Heroes CD. To this day it remains a family favorite. Sing it with me: Raisins, raisins, all we are is raisins; big one, small ones, short ones, tall ones…
And now the wheel’s gone round again and it’s Rilla’s turn to be swept away by O’Callahan whimsy. (She’s already a big Jim Weiss fan.) As for me, the story tape I want to listen to is a recording of those belly laughs from last night.
The Rabbit-Trailer’s Soundtrack
This Tickled My Funny Bone
The Temper of the Shrew
Feast Your Eyes and Ears
In Case You Missed This in May