What Whootie Owl looks for in a story:Positive message.
The stories selected for Whootie Owl's Fairytales and Folk Tales must say something positive about one of the following themes:
- Caring for Yourself (ex: courage, perseverance, self-awareness)
- Caring for Others (ex: friendship, kindness, love)
- Caring for the World (ex: community, justice, peaceability)
- Strong story line.
Conflict, surprise, intrigue & suspense create action. Kids like humor, too, especially stories with riddles.
- Upbeat ending.
The Walt Disney Company knows that kids like happy endings. The stories in Whootie Owl's Fairytales and Folk Tales typically end on an upbeat note.
- A young character as the star.
Kids identify better when the main character in a story is a child, a teenager, a young adult, or even an animal. A story that stars adults or older characters will have less appeal to kids.
What Whootie Owl avoids in a story:
- Religious tone.
Whootie Owl's stories are nondenominational. The stories do not pitch a religious message from any one group. Where there may be references to a deity or religious places or symbols, alternative language is provided. Whootie Owl stays away from creation stories, too. Also, stories on why certain animals developed certain characteristics (why dogs chase cats, how leopards got their spots) may be fun, but rarely address positive themes such as courage, friendship or justice.
- Sexist or racist references.
A story where the princess is married off at the end as if she is a prize is sexist. But if she develops a relationship with her suitor, then the story is more likely to express themes of love and respect and qualify for Whootie Owl's Fairytales and Folk Tales. Stories that use racial or ethnic slurs are of course disqualified.
- Preaching. Who likes lectures?
Kids sure don't & the same goes for owls. You'll see preaching when an older character seems to wag a finger at a younger character and tell the younger character what to do.
- Mushy, drippy scenes.
Whootie groans at heavily sentimental scenes. "The poor, lame orphan looked up pleadingly and blinked away his tears." Or this: "'Thank you! Thank you!' she cried, jumping on her mother's lap and covering her face with kisses." Whootie Owl puckers at overly-sweet scenes such as these.
- Gruesome acts.
Mutilated body parts, boiled limbs -- Yuck! (even for an owl).
- Death of familiar characters.
It's OK for a parent or family member to die in the first few paragraphs, but kids will object when a main character dies well into the story. This is also true of animals that have become central to a story.
- External forces save the day.
Let's say an avalanche falls on a greedy merchant. This plot line doesn't fit Whootie Owl's profile for Whootie Owl's Fairytales and Folk Tales, because an external force determines the outcome. Whootie Owl prefers stories where the individuals in the story solve their own problems.
- It's too easy!--solution is handed to the main character.
A story where the main character (stumbles upon/ sits on/ is handed/ is told about) a (bag of gold/ magic ring/ other magical object) without lifting a finger, is too easy! Main characters in Whootie Owl's stories have to exert some effort to find a solution to their problems.
- Trickster tales.
A story of how Anansai the spider, for example, tricks other jungle animals to get something he wants for himself doesn't fit Whootie Owl's profile for Whootie Owl's Fairytales and Folk Tales. That's because Anasai is serving his own needs. On the other hand, there is one type of trickster story that can work: Namely, when a character tricks another character for the benefit of that second character.
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