Tall tales and folklore spun at Sippican School

May 8, 2022

Sippican School Librarian Jessica Barrett was searching for a way to bring the first grade unit on storytelling to life.

“The kids love [this unit],” she said. “We study folktales from all around the world, trickster tales, tall tales, anything like that. They get so into it.”

In the fall, Barrett realized that award-winning storyteller Len Cabral lives in Providence. Many teachers were familiar with him, but they had never been able to find the funding to bring him into school before.

Barrett started doing research.

“I found out about the Marion Cultural Council Grant, which is for performing art experiences, especially if it brings in cultural diversity,” Barrett said.

Cabral fit that description.

Cabral is the great-grandson of a Cape Verdean whaler. Cabral’s grandparents immigrated to America. He tells folktales from his background, as well as his own stories, and has performed internationally at festivals all around the world.

Barrett found out that they were awarded the grant in January and began planning for the event, which would be for grades kindergarten through third.

The grant covered half the cost, while the rest was funded by Volunteers At Sippican Elementary (VASE), a parent organization.

On Friday morning, May 6, Cabral held two sessions in the library for students, who got to experience the traditional storytelling they learned about in class firsthand.

“Teachers raved about the performance afterward,” said Barrett.

Students enjoyed it, too.

"I didn't think I was going to like it before I went, but I loved it. He was so good,” said second-grader Mark Rider.

Barrett hopes to bring Cabral back again next year, making it a tradition at the Sippican School.