Touring In: Nova Scotia

Craft: storyteller

Genre: Folktales, Animal stories

Ideal Audience Size: 20-40 (JK-Grade 1); 30-60 (Grades 2-5); 50-80 (Grades 5-8); 50-125 (family groups)

Maximum Audience Size: 100-125

Grades: Kindergarten-Grade 6

Special Equipment: Flip chart with markers for draw-and-tell tales or black board and chalk; straight backed chair with no wheels or rockers; water, small low table or stool for props. Kathie prefers a quiet space where the lights can be dimmed; she does not find a gymnasium a suitable space for story telling as words disappear into the rafters. A microphone would be appreciated for large groups.

Website: www.storytellers-conteurs.ca

Presentation Information

Kathie Kompass enjoys the words and images of older storie,s as well as the brevity and punchiness of a modern tale. She often reworks traditional stories putting a new and humourous spin on well-known material. Her desire is to light a verbal candle, drawing the audience closer to the proverbial flame as adventures unfold.

Kathie sees storytelling as a traditional art form that expresses and passes on cultural values. Listeners, when they take part in a story adventure, can experience the dilemmas and consequences of a character’s decision making. When they attend a story program students have the opportunity to strengthen listening skills and practice visualization. Stories are a tool for vocabulary enrichment as unusual and delicious words slip in to help expand the plot. Storytelling can be used to introduce or summarize a theme or unit.

Currently Kathie has programs available on the following themes, geared to particular audiences:

Assorted Animal Tales Kindergarten to Grade 6 or Family
Around and About the Caribbean Grades 2 to 6
African Tales Kindergarten to Grade 8
Cat Tales Kindergarten to Grade 6
Not So Very Scary Tales Kindergarten to Grade 8
Traditional Tales from Europe (no princesses) Kindergarten to Grade 6
Tales from the East Grades 2 to 6
Modern and Mischievous Grades 2 to 6 or Family
Strong Women Grades 2 to 6
Stories the Scots and the Irish Brought to Canada Grades 4 to 8 or Adults
Family Life Kindergarten to Grade 4
When They First Came to this Land (Pioneers) Kindergarten to Grade 6

A typical program starts with Kathie lighting an electric candle and welcoming the students to storytelling. This is followed by one or two short and humourous stories, something the listener might be able to remember and retell at home. Then a story with a twist or a trick to it, perhaps a tall tale, something that just might be true, something that the listener has to figure out.

After this she will usually include a chant that the students do with her. This breaks the tension of sitting still and listening carefully. And it lets the students help to tell a story. The chant will reflect one of the stories told and help the students remember what the stories were about. The third type of story will be a more complex one. It may be longer and it will ask the listener to draw on their imagination or life experience. Then perhaps after a draw and tell story Kathie would conclude with a brief story that demonstrates her hopes for life in a peaceful and generous world.

Kathie is delighted with questions and comments but recommends that they be shared at the end of the program as time allows. She provides a resource and activity sheet for teachers.

It’s Spring at Last!
Sample Program for Kindergarten–Grade 2 (30-45 minutes)

The stories told will depend on the age and cultural background of the children present. Children in Grade 2 generally are able to enjoy a longer program than children in Kindergarten. This list includes tales and rhymes that Kathie might choose for a specific program.

Here are Grandma’s Glasses A participation rhyme
Pickin’ Peas By Margaret Read MacDonald
The Gingerbread Kid Runs Away Kathie’s re-working of an old tale
Talisman A story from the Caribbean
The Yellow Button By Anne Mazur
Turtle of Koka From Angola
There’s a Goat in Grandpa’s Garden Traditional
The Gate Swings Open Rhyme
Alexander the Bear A draw and tell tale
10 Galloping Horses Rhyme
Grandfather Bear is Hungry From Siberia
When Hippo was Hairy From Africa
Little Clay Hut Ukrainian
Owl in Bed By Arnold Lobel

Around the World and Back Again

Sample Program for Grades 4-6 (45-50 minutes)

Stories would be selected from this list:

Junk Food A chant from Canada
Magic Fox From Japan
Clytie Greek myth about the sunflower
Sausage and Mouse Kathie’s reworking of a Brothers Grimm story
Noguchi the Samurai From Japan
Talking Skull From Africa
Finn McCool From Ireland
Juanita A “draw and tell tale”
Ellie Mitchell Set in British Columbia, a bit spooky

Much Mischief

A sample program for a mixed age or family audience (45-50  minutes)

Stories would be selected from this list:

Flea A clapping chant
Grandad and the Frogs About my grandparents, with participation
Carl Keeps House From Sweden
Sam Meets Five Tigers Fantasy tale that happens just down the street
This is the Squirrel Participation rhyme
Rose la Tulippe A Canadian tale
Tish, Tosh A chant from Canada
The Fox as Shepherd A warning tale
Ghost with the One Black Eye For re-telling!



Once upon a time, thirty-four years ago, Kathie Kompass embarked on her own storytelling story.

An enthusiastic Girl Guide and Guider, Kathie attended a Nature Interpretation weekend that began with the telling of John Muir’s “Stickeen”, a tale about the naturalist and his small dog on an Alaskan glacier. This was the highlight of the weekend for her. She was so captivated by the tale that she almost gave up the last $10.00 in her wallet to buy the book rather than her supper. Hunger won out but as soon as she arrived home she sat her four little boys down and told them the story as she remembered it. The experiment was a success! Kathie knew that she could tell a story and that she loved doing it!

After that, whenever she went into the local school she told stories instead of reading to the children. And never again did a child say, “Miss, I can’t see the pictures”. Kathie likes to include chants and rhymes that the students do with her, sometimes standing, sometimes sitting. Chants and rhymes help to break the tension of being still and listening carefully. And they invite students to help to tell a story.

In the years since then, wherever she has lived, Kathie has told stories to children from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8 in Madoc, Trenton, Portland and Ottawa, Ontario. In 2007, she toured with Storytelling Toronto’s SITS program (Storytellers In The Schools), in the Limestone District School Board, in Eastern Ontario.

On four occasions, Kathie has performed at the Toronto Storytelling Festival, most recently telling tales from the brothers Grimm. In 2012 and 2013, Kathie entertained audiences at the Sharon Temple Weaving Words Storytelling Festival.

In Ottawa, where Kathie has lived since 2002, she has performed on eight occasions at the Fourth Stage of the National Arts Centre as part of Ottawa StoryTellers’ (OST) premier series, Speaking Out/Speaking In. She has co-managed a season of Fourth Stage, co-chaired OST’s November Storytelling Festival and been a festival teller an amazing eleven times!

Early in 2016, Kathie toured British Columbia with The Game’s Afoot: Stories from Sherlock Holmes. This program was first presented as part of the Ottawa StoryTellers’ 2014/2015 series at the Fourth Stage.

A strong believer in training and mentoring new tellers, Kathie has organized and taught numerous Introduction to Storytelling workshops for OST since 2003 and hosted monthly Storytalks in her home to help emerging tellers practice their craft. Kathie also tells stories several times a year at the Tea Party, a small café where casual concerts are held twice a month. For the past five years she has been one of two organizers for the series, recruiting and supporting tellers to prepare and present programs.

For three years Kathie was an artist with MASC (Multicultural Arts School and Community) She has told true and whimsical historical stories for visitors to the Billings National Historic Site, the Bytown Museum, Museum of History, Canadian Museum of Nature and Pinhey’s Point Historic Site.

And the story continues…Kathie is still a member of Girl Guides of Canada and tells stories at gatherings of Sparks, Brownies and Guides. As a Guiding Trainer, Kathie has led storytelling workshops for Guiders locally and provincially and she continues to lead Story Play workshops for the girls. She attends Storytelling concerts, participates in workshops and visits the public library weekly, always on the hunt for another perfect story.

When she can tear herself away from the world of stories, Kathie keeps house, baking but not dusting. She reads, bikes, takes exercise classes, struggles with cross stitch embroidery and the TV remote. She and her patient husband travel to visit and play with eight, count ‘em, eight grandchildren.

Praise for Kathie Kompass

“This is the lady that tells us the stories without opening a book!”
—  Small boy in the bank

“Just wanted to say thank you again for taking the time to come in and introduce the art of storytelling to my class. Their comments were very favourable and this is a tough group to impress. They recognized your passion for the art and were able to articulate examples of how you used your voice and your body in the telling process”
— Sandra, teacher

“Your telling of the Holmes tale was wonderful. Great tempo, poise, and comic timing. You engaged me in the story from the moment you began to tell, then held me in the world of Holmes for the full telling (I can’t recall my mind “wandering” from your story even once!). Thank you for a delightful evening’s entertainment. From my personal vantage point, your storytelling skills have blossomed in the years since I first met you. As an audience member at your show last night, I realized that I was relaxed and engaged in your story from the moment you started to speak, and not at all thinking about/or anxious for, the teller. You are performing with a poise, confidence and certainty which makes listening to you a real delight!
— Jeff

“My kids thoroughly enjoyed the session with you and Mary! Thank you to you both! I have another busy bunch but they rose to the occasion and listened and participated beautifully. I thought you laid the program out well with plenty of “body breaks” between and within stories/chants. Well-planned on both of your parts.”
— Debbie

“I had wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the way, on Thursday, you told the same story to three such different audiences in three such different stories. The words were the same, but the pace, the pauses, the expression, were perfect for each audience.”
— Ruth

“Just wanted you to know how wonderful was your telling this evening. The text was great, but what really made the story come alive, was your comic timing (which was bang on), wry smile (which brought the audience “in” on the fun) and your flawless delivery.  All in all, a superior performance!  Thanks so much: your story was the highlight of my evening.
— Jeff

“I do love the way, when you tell, that you have these moments of surprise… moments where, coming out of the steady flow of the story, you have the characters/animals cry out or speak as themselves, and then we return to the steadiness of the story.”
— Cristina, student

“It was also a treat to hear you tell. You have such exquisite taste in stories and always you tell with such clarity and love for the language.”
— Jennifer, storyteller

“You are the white clown! It’s your double edge sword! You wield it and tzac tzac tzak! It’s one of the wonderful things about you!”
— Marta, translator

“You have been and are such an important part of the bedrock of Ottawa StoryTellers. You, especially, have contributed hugely, in your quiet, let’s-get-it-done, competent, and pleasant way. So many people who have become active in the organization have done so because of the encouragement you have given them. And you are a stellar teller!”
— Gail, librarian

“I didn’t get a chance to ask you this last night. Did you write that version? I suspect you did because you are truly an exceptional writer — and that was the best version of that story (a story I like a lot) that I have ever heard. I was swept away.”
— Jennifer, producer

“What a great show. The season couldn’t have ended better. I found myself listening like a little kid and I thought the way you worked out the speaking parts was extremely effective.”
— Elaine, storyteller