Stories for Strong, Smart Girls

A tribe that survives on buffalo meat begins to starve when the herds will not come near. Now a young woman who loves her people walks out onto the plains near the herd. “If you will only come and feed my people,” she says, “I will marry one of you.”

So begins The Buffalo’s Wife, an elemental tale of sacrifice and a woman’s power, just one of the three stories on The Wise Little Girl: Tales of the Feminine by Odds Bodkin. Find out about The Buffalo’s Wife and other more lighthearted stories, some very funny, on this story album for strong, smart girls.

Get it for $4.95 or as part of the $99 download special at Odds Bodkin’s Shop.

A Childhood Dinosaur Storytelling Epic

Imagine you’re four to seven years old and you love dinosaurs. You’ve seen movies like Land Before Time and The Good Dinosaur, but there’s not much else other than books full of dinosaur pictures and fluffy cartoons where nothing happens. You’re still a little too young for Jurassic Park. Still, you love T-Rexes and Stegosaurs because they’re so huge, and you don’t mind dinosaurs who talk like people because, well, you’re a kid.

Still, with all that, nothing has prepared you for The Little Proto Trilogy, once your parents buy it for you. Suddenly you’re in a sonic world of dinosaur sounds, voices and 12-string guitar music. And these dinosaurs don’t just talk, they have endearing personalities and even sing songs. They’re funny, at least the civilized ones. They’re named Tex, Colette, Old Wrinkles, Bump, Ankles, King Geoffrey and Plessy. But your favorite voice, the young hero of all three adventures, is Little Proto.

He’s a Protoceratops. He’s not very big, but he’s gutsy, funny and compassionate.

As Proto grows up, he befriends Old Wrinkles the Triceratops, although Proto’s never quite sure if his wise mentor really is the Vanished One-Horned King of the Great Migration herds. King Geoffrey the T-Rex has sworn off eating dinosaurs as long as he has plenty of fish brought to him. Despite King Geoffrey’s aloof manner, he burps horribly and has terrible bad breath. The two old dinos, former enemies, now grumpy old friends, save Proto’s life more than once in the tales.

But Proto’s best friends are Plessy the Plesiosaur, who lives in the sea and swims up Big River to play with the boys, Ankles the Ankylosaur, who wants to swim but can’t because of his armor plates, and Bump, the Pachycephalosaurus. Proto meets Bump just after Proto escapes the winged thieves of Pteranodon Gorge. Bump has a bone dome on top of his head and likes to bump things with it. He’s an orphan, and so Proto’s mom and dad have adopted him and he’s like Proto’s silly brother. They all live together in the Sea Forest, a protected world of peaceful dinosaurs. But things don’t stay peaceful for long, just like in real life.

If you’re that kid whose parents buy The Little Proto Trilogy (no CDs, just mp3s), you won’t know or care that the stories are Parents’ Choice award-winning storytelling audios. You’ll just enter a world of pure imagination and you’ll fall asleep listening to them, over and over again.

PS: at 3 hours and 20 minutes across all three tales, it really is an epic. Hear a sample and buy it here.

“I Cannot Stop Listening”

Simon Brooks is an Englishman and fellow professional storyteller. He recently wrote a review of my latest epic audio story, Beowulf: The Only One. I’ve excerpted it below.

“Like all of his work, Odds Bodkin’s ‘Beowulf’is deep, funny, and brilliantly told. Odds’ version is entertaining and pulls you in so you cannot back away from it… I have listened to it several times. In fact I am at the point where I cannot start it unless I have the time to finish it all. I cannot stop listening to the words and music which flow so wonderfully throughout the hour and twenty minutes or so it lasts.”

Want a good story to listen to? Told for adults? You can listen to a sample and buy it here.

Happy Summer! And thanks, Mr. Brooks.

Kids in the Treetops

I was about eighty feet in the sky. Up here, the tulip tree’s two giant trunks, which split off from each other about twelve feet from the ground from a single bole, were only a couple of inches thick, still growing. Around me were big, mitten-shaped leaves and bursting tulips, orange and green. Not really tulips as you might know them, but flowers anyway, the amazing blooms of liriodendron tulipifera, a term I didn’t learn until much later. At the moment I was nine years old, having climbed my favorite tree with Andy McKemie, a kid my age. This was Virginia in 1962.

 
We both knew not to climb any higher. This was the perfect place to rock the two treetops, flexible as they were this high up. The tulip tree towered above all others in the woods by the creek. We could see the old house on the hilltop in its abandoned, dilapidated glory. The meadows, too. At least today, the feral horses that lived in the untended barn and grazed the grass around the collapsed chicken coops weren’t chasing us off. In the old house we’d found blue ribbons from horse races long ago. Somebody had left the property in a sad hurry. I’ve never looked into who the family was.

 
My parents had no idea I’d learned to do this. All we kids had. There were no limbs close to the ground around the trunk in the clearing. To get up there, we tossed a rope tied around a thick stick over the lowest bough, sat on it and hauled ourselves up. From there, once we’d pulled up the rope so no kids from Jefferson Manor could follow us, it was an easy climb along the dusty, evenly distributed limbs to the top of the tulip tree.

 
Andy’s perch on the twin crown was about ten feet from mine. “You ready?” I probably said, since we both knew what we were about to do. He probably said, “Sure,” and we both pulled back, bending our treetops away from each other, then, like kids do on swings, we rocked forward, working our swings to eventually pass each other, getting those green twin treetops to bend back and forth.

 
By the time we were done with this game, the exhilaration was always worth the climb. I guess if someone had had a drone with a camera, hovering above us, it would have captured two little boys, laughing and swinging two treetops past each other in deep arcs, better than a ride at the carnival. Wind. Light. Trust in the tree and in our hands.

 
The reason I bring up this true story is that here in Bradford, New Hampshire, far north of their normal range, I’ve planted two tulip trees my sister Lindsay gave me as tiny saplings four years ago in my back yard. She lives in Maryland. They’re budding again, one of them now a head taller than me.

 
Hopefully, long after I’m gone, they’ll be eighty feet tall, too, helping to replace the forest of red and white oaks, pines and sugar maples that currently surround my home. The poplars have survived thus far. The climate’s changing. Remember the chestnuts. Things come and go.

ADULT STORYTELLING IN CAMBRIDGE, MA: HERCULES IN HELL

“Oh, Hercules, I find your story so exciting!” effuses Persephone, Hades’ unhappy wife. Hercules has landed in the Underworld, a place he didn’t expect to be.

 
“Do you?” he asks, disgusted at the situation. He’s been telling his life story in order to get out of here and go to Olympus. Persephone, Hades’ unwilling wife, longs for news of the living, which until a moment ago Hercules was. But now he’s dead.

 
Hades doesn’t like his wife’s tone. “Oh, hold your heart back, Persephone,” he says jealously, wondering if this confession business was a good idea. He tries to make Persephone happy, but considering that he’s raped, abducted and imprisoned her here in the Land of the Dead, it’s a hard sell. She hates him. “He won’t be here long.”

 
Hercules has lived a hard, terrifying life. The last thing he wants to do is remember it for these two. “Let me go now and I’ll stop right here,” he growls sarcastically.

 
“Calm yourself,” Hades demands.

 
“Calm myself,” he retorts, getting angry. “Do you think it makes me calm to sit here and tell all this to you two dreary souls?” His voice has risen.

 
“Hades, he is rude!” she complains.

 
“Uh, yes,” Hades responds, “Hercules, shades like you typically do not speak here. If you’d like me to remove your voice…”

 
“No, no, no, I’ll calm myself,” the dead hero replies. “Oh, yes. I learned to do it. Took a long time…”


This is the fictional setting I use to tell the myth of Hercules. Only the characters speak. There is no narration from me. Just Hercules, Hades, Persephone and a host of other voices from Hercules’ sad, shattered life. That and a full, ongoing score on 12-string guitar with an introduction on Celtic harp. The tale is a long one, but it’s filled with humor, tragedy, adventure and in the end, hope. And I hope you’ll join me this coming Sunday evening, April 23rd at 8 p.m. in Cambridge, MA to hear it and imagine along with me. The venue is Grendel’s Den. Enjoy a mythic Greek meal, good drinks and some adult storytelling!
Tickets are here.

WHEN A GUITAR SOUNDS SYMPHONIC

I’ve been playing 12-string guitars to accompany stories for a long time. Nowadays I play a Taylor 12 and a custom-built Ron Ho made in Port Townsend, Washington, both great instruments. This coming Sunday night I’ll be using the Taylor to score The Odyssey: Belly of the Beast, tuned to a modified open E, a unique tuning that allows the guitar to sound, well, symphonic. Or at least that’s the goal.

 

The music is like a second voice, adding drama to the spoken words, much the way a movie score works. Leitmotif is a cool word coined by Richard Wagner denoting themes for characters and emotions, and The Odyssey is filled with many of them. One is a soothing, broad oceanic theme meant to relax my listeners. Another is a haunting, melancholy theme of longing that signifies Odysseus himself, wishing he were home even as he’s facing terrifying dangers. Polyphemus the Cyclops has his own music, too, bursting atonalities played in double-stops on the bass strings. Musicians tend to enjoy the accompaniment as much as the tale itself.

 

The show is at 8 pm on Sunday, April 2 at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA. If you know anyone in New England who might enjoy this performance, please pass it on.

 
Tickets are $20 here.

BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE Audio Thanksgiving Day Release

Beowulf: The Only One
A New Bardic Telling with 12-String Guitar

Odds Bodkin’s new 65-minute bardic telling of the oldest story in the English language will be available at https://www.oddsbodkin.net/shop/ on Thanksgiving Day. Employing a cinema-like score on 12-string guitar, human characters and monstrous voices, the audio tells a tale of gratitude and simple courage in the face of ancient evils.

Beowulf: The Only One is gruesome in places and filled with vivid details of old Viking life. Unlike recent Hollywood versions of the tale, the audio closely follows the original poem’s story, from the monster Grendel’s first attacks on Hrothgar’s mead hall to Beowulf’s battle with the Fire Dragon fifty years later.

The story includes frank violence. Not recommended for listeners under 12.

This recording joins Bodkin’s collection of epic tales for older children, teens and adults that includes The Odyssey, David and Goliath, The Hidden Grail and The Myth of Hercules, all available as mp3 audios at www.oddsbodkin.net.

The download will be available for $14.95 using PayPal.