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.

Science Storytellers in Boulder

How do we reach the many Americans who, despite abundant facts everywhere, deny that man-made climate disruption is real and increasingly dangerous to humankind and earth’s creatures? Some believe it is God’s plan and there’s nothing to be done, nor should anything be done. Others are paid to call the science into question by business interests, despite the fact that the CIA and American military have been sounding the alarm for years. Our current president either believes that it’s not real or that adapting to the tipping-point nightmares in our near future can be done with sea walls and immigration walls.

The national conversation about climate we’re having today may well be the most important one we Americans have this decade, and to help with that, I’ll be journeying to Boulder, Colorado to join others this coming mid-September to lend storytelling skills to climate scientists and activists.

Composed of measurements and numbers as much of science is, it can be lost in the noise of entertainments we Americans so love. Climate stories, however, written and spoken by growing numbers of informed citizens, have a chance to break through to an inattentive public.

Living Beyond Hope and Fear: Warrior Principle, Climate Action Symposium takes place Sept. 15-17 2017 at the Shambhala Center in Boulder.

Saturday night I’ll be performing Gaia: Fall of the Titans, the Greek creation myth, followed up with a StoryScience presentation.

Saturday morning and afternoon I’ll be offering a special DOOR TO IMAGINATION: HOW TO AWAKEN YOUR INNER STORYTELLER workshop for climate scientists and activists.

Join us for this important conversation. You can register and purchase tickets for the Symposium here.

Please join us!

 

Odds Bodkin

 

The Most Astonishing, Smart and Beautiful Letter I’ve Ever Received from a Mother

This post came in yesterday on Facebook from Valorie Gamer Osterman.

Thanks, Valorie!

 

Dear Odds,

Forgive me while I faint. My daughter is home visiting, and I just told her you had written me. The house is ringing with her squeals of joy! We are a family who treats you as a rock star, stalking your schedule, pouncing upon new recordings, and checking the internet for news of you. Living in Seattle, we lived too far away to enjoy a live performance but now my eldest is at Eastman School of Music so once again, we are stalking your schedule to make it to a live performance.

I did not write the article but feel free to quote my comments about it. The article was written by Diane Levin of Wheelock College in Boston.

Music is important but humans fought to speak for a reason. Music may move the soul but stories create and shape the soul. Music moves the emotions but stories help us understand them. Storytelling is a rare skill these days with so much TV and radio being formulaic rather than original. Finding those who can still tell a story is a rare find. Finding those who can tell a good story AND make great music is priceless!

You are, indeed, an enduring legacy in my household. “Drip, drip, drip” is often used as the punchline in a family story to denote that it is one to remember and share. In the transition from audio cassette to CD, we had to forgo many of the stories because I could no longer find copies. When my then 16-year-old daughter saw a tape-to-mp3 converter, her first thought was to find your old stories so we could listen again. When I saw you were going to debut “Beowulf” on the East Coast, I encouraged all my NY/MA friends to come but when I said I was going to buy a copy, my kids insisted I had to wait until Christmas so we could all listen together. My eldest will be 25 so I think that means we’ve been listening to you for 22 years at this point!

We are a very plugged-in family and never far from electronics and screens. I credit our car rides filled with stories from you and Jim French Productions for a large reason why my kids never turned on their walkmans/ipods/laptops in the car. It wasn’t just the stories, it was the situations and characters you brought to life. Unlike most music, the stories you tell invite conversation, discussion, and analysis so as we drove from school to sports to drama to dinner to dance and finally home, we listened and, more importantly, we talked. As the kids got into the car, I’d ask “Talk, stories, or music?” If a kid had a long day, a few stories would rejuvenate them and they’d start to tell me about their day.

It’s those conversations that were the play in their minds. Not only did the stories engage their minds in ways books and screens didn’t, they presented the option of stopping the story, talking about some aspect of it – often in the context of something they’d learned or were experiencing – and then listening to the rest of the story. Given the wide range of stories you tell, we could always find connections between what was going on in our lives with some character or situation in one of your stories. Sometimes when a kid was wrestling with something, they’d pick a story they wanted to hear, stop the story somewhere, then talk about what was bothering them.

So, thank you. Thank you for years of stories and coming back to give us new ones. Thank you for writing about tough topics but remembering that humor is important, too. Thank you for being someone my kids could use to help explain the world but never told them what to think. Thank you for talking about doing the right thing, even if it is hard, but never beating anyone over the head with the morality. Most importantly, thank you for providing a role model for my kids that storytelling is just as important today in our era of smart screens as it was when we lived in caves. At one point when one of my kids and I were just irritated with each other, they suggested we go for a car ride and listen to some stories. An hour later, we came back talking again and laughing.

Mission accomplished, sir. Mission accomplished.

Sincerely,
Valorie
————

Artist’s Note: Valorie proceeded to purchase a $99 All Collections Bundle at our download store. Bless her heart. I hope to meet her someday. And her kids.