Public Library Programs

"Jon Sundell 'plays' an audience of children as well as he plays any of the instruments he brings to a concert. The pace is lively as he moves from song to instrumental to tall tale to sing-along, and the atmosphere is one of warmth and good humor where every child feels a part of the happening."
– Lynne Crocker, journalist, Arts Council of Wyndham County, VT


An ideal library program should not only draw and entertain a large audience, but also inspire them to read and learn. While most programs do one or the other, Jon Sundell's "twist-and-tell" programs do both!

The promise of getting their own balloon figure is a great hook for kids that adds to the appeal of engaging in a lively, varied program of stories, songs, and color slides. Using his guitar, banjo, autoharp, and other instruments and providing plenty of opportunity for participation, Jon weaves together a multicultural assortment of stories and songs to hold his audience in rapt attention. Color slides engage their sense of sight while providing cultural background for tales and recommending books related to the tales. Jon provides the libraries with program-related title suggestions, so that they have an easy option to set up adjoining book displays for students to check out.

To top it off, several of the songs or tales are performed as Jon creates a related balloon figure, and after the show kids get to choose a custom-made figure to take home with their book. The promise of a balloon draws a big crowd. Watching Jon "twist-and-tell" stories enhances their interest. And getting their own balloon at the end is the icing on the cake. Kids go home with songs and tales in their head and books and balloons in their hands.

Trying to hear a child's response to What is a pulga.
telling Mariposa at Un Cr El - Copy (2)
Telling The Monkey & the Crocodile

"Loved the themes, balloons, songs and stories. Very Good storytelling and musical talent."

- Davie County Public Library, NC

Assembling the flower for The Empty Pot

"I think the promise of balloon animals was a big attraction for this program. Our audience was very excited.  It is always interesting to watch the creation of a balloon as the story unfolds." 

- Newton Public Library, Catawba Co, NC

This video was prepared for the NC Public Library's 2020 Summer Reading program on the theme, "Imagine Your Story." It combines folk tales and songs with color slides and some balloon twisting and invites audience participation on the songs and one tale. Contents include: (1) 00 General intro; (2) 1:37 "The Summer Reading Song," with guitar, words by Jon Sundell, using music from "I Ain't Gonna Study War No More," an old African American spiritual; (3) 5:24 Intro to mythology and Native American myth; (4) 9:18 Native American Myth: How Raven Brought Light to His People;

(5) 15:00 Intro to folk song; (6) 17:12 Traditional folk song: "Little Birdie," with banjo; (7) 20:00 Intro to fairy tales & Barney McCabe; (8) 24:15 Fairy tale: "Barnie McCabe, Doodeleedoo and Sooboy" with singing parts; includes making balloon dogs & using in story; (9) 31:57 Intro to Japanese fairy tale: The Tengus' Magic Fan; (10) 34:49 Fairy tale: The Tengus' Magic Fan; (11) 46:25 Reflections on how fairy tales help us in real life; (11) 47:25 Intro to song, "Patchwork Quilt"; (12) 48:50 Folk song by Larry Penn: "On My Grandma's Patchwork Quilt," with motions by Jon Sundell; (13) 52:40 Concluding comments; (14) 53:27 Credits.

"Your program has it all - Storytelling, folk songs, color slides and balloon figures! There's plenty there to keep everybody entertained." - Emily Cocowitch, Friends of the Library President, Chatham Community Library, Pittsboro, NC

SUMMER READING 2020: IMAGINE YOUR STORY                                             - FAIRY TALES & MYTHOLOGY

Following is a list of some highly recommended books of fairy tales and myths. If I have not personally read and enjoyed a book, I have found a 4/5 star or better score from Goodreads (individual readers' ratings) and professional reviewers.


Rosinsky, Natalie. Write your own fairy tale. Forsyth County Public Library

Mindin, Cecilia. How to Write a Fairy Tale. Forsyth County Public Library.

Doyle, Malachy. Tales From Old Ireland. (Niammh Sharkey, illus.) Haunting tales, beautifully told. Forsyth County & Greensboro Public Library.

Philip, Neil. Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm. Forsyth County Public Library.

Schwartz, Howard. The Wonder Child and Other Jewish Fairy Tales. Forsyth County and Greensboro Public Library

Martin, Rafe. The Rough-Face Girl. Haunting, powerful version of the Cinderella tale from the Algonquin Indians. Forsyth County and Greensboro Public Library.

Hayes, Joe. Estrellita de oro / Little Gold Star. Fascinating Hispanic variant of the Cinderella tale. Forsyth County and Greensboro Public Library.

Philip, Neil. Horse Hooves and Chicken Feet: Mexican Folktales. (Jacqueline Mair, illus.) Great selection of folk and fairy tales with bright, folk art style illustrations. Greensboro Public Library.

Forest, Heather. Wonder Tales From Around the World. (David Boston, illus.)

Sanderson, Ruth. Papa Gato: An Italian Fairy Tale. Beautifully told and illustrated variant of Cinderella tale. Forsyth County Public Library.

Lunge-Larson, Lise. The Troll With No Heart in His Body and Other Tales of Trolls, from Norway. (Betsy Bowen, illus.) From the land of the Three Billy Goats Gruff comes this excellent assortment of tales. Forsyth County and Greensboro Public Library.

Many wonderful folk tales and folktale collections have gone out of print. Some of them are still available in the public library. But if they are not, I invite you to consider buying them as used books, most of which are available in excellent condition for $2.50 to $5.00 apiece. I particularly recommend Better World Books, which donates a book to poor countries for every one that they sell, and often offers prices of $2.50-$3.00 for buying 3-6 sale books simultaneously. Thrift Books gives you credit toward a free books with each purchase. Abe Books and Amazon have large selections in the $4-5 price range.


McDermott, Gerald. Raven: A Trickster Tale From the Pacific Northwest. (G. McDermott, illus.) New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2001.  Forsyth County & Greensboro Public Libraries.

Hamilton, Virginia. In the beginning : creation stories from around the world (Barry Moser, illus.) San Diego : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, c1988. c1988. Forsyth County & Greensboro Public Libraries.

Jaffe, Nina. The golden flower : a Taino myth from Puerto Rico  ( Enrique O. Sanchez., illus.) Forsyth County and Greensboro Public Libraries.

Gerson, Mary-Joan. People of Corn: A Mayan Story. (Carla Golembe, illus.) Forsyth Co & Greensboro Public Libraries. Forsyth County and Greensboro Public Libraries.

Fu, Shelley. Treasury of Chinese Folk Tales: Beloved Myths and Legends from the Middle Kingdom. Forsyth Couty and NC Kids E book.

Anderson, David. The Origin of Life on Earth: An African Creation Myth. (Kathleen Atkins Wilson, illus.) 1993 Coretta Scott King award. Beautifully illustrated creation myth of the Yoruba people in AFrica. Forsyth County and Greensboro Public Libraries.

Te Kanawa, Kiri. Land of the long white cloud : Maori myths, tales, and legends (Michael Foreman, illus.) 19 tales from the native people of New Zealand. Forsyth County & Greensboro Public Libraries.

Hernandezx Madrigal, Antonio. The Eagle and the Rainbow: Timeless Tales of Mexico. (Tomie dePaola, illus) Fascinating legends from the Maya, Aztec, Huichol, Taramura and Tarascan peoples of Mexico). For 8 years +) Forsyth County Pub Library.


Marsh, Valerie. Mystery-fold : stories to tell, draw, and fold (Patrick Luzadder, illus) Greensboro Public Library.

Fujita, Hiroko. Stories to Play With: Kids' Tales Told with Puppets, Paper, Toys, and Imagination

Sierra, Judy & Robert Kaminski. Multicultural Folktales: Stories to Tell Young Children. Folktales with flannel board patterns and suggestions for telling. Forsyth County Public Library.

Sierra, Judy. Multicultural folktales for the feltboard and readers' theater. Greensboro Public Library.

Pellowski, Anne. The Story Vine: A Source Book of Unusual and Easy-to-Tell Stories From Around the World. (Lynn Sweat, illus.)

"Jon Sundell Twisting and Telling Full Library Sampler." Youtube video shows Jon telling three folktales while making and using simple balloon figures.


"Lovely and engaging program. The children enjoyed listening to and interacting with the presentation. They responded with enthusiasm to the call and response songs, storytelling and balloon creations. Balloons are always exciting for children, and it gave them something to take away to remember their experience. The slides provided a good visual for the participants to follow along."   – East Regional Branch, Durham County Public Library

Jon & Vivian at Greensboro Pub Lib 10-6-18 (4)
close-up guitar trimmed in back of bookm - Copy

"Jon Sundell is all about bringing people together. His many talents as a gifted musician and storyteller weave the magic of making a diverse audience feel as one."
Laura Weigand, Children's Services Coordinator, Forsyth County Public Library 

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