Touring In: Quebec

Craft: storyteller

Ideal Audience Size: 8-30

Maximum Audience Size: 130

Grades: Grades 5-12

Special Equipment: Microphone


Presentation Information

Grades 4-6: Singing Tales
Origin tales and how music can get you in and out of trouble.

  • How Music Came to the World: A young Xhosa girl brings the first music to her village, and the world.
  • The First Flute: To win his true love, a young prince must find a way to learn and sing the song of every bird in the forest.
  • How the Animals Got Their Voices: Mouse has stolen Lion’s Voice and Lion wants it back.
  • The Singing Turtle:  A farmer finds that a singing turtle leads not to riches, but a pile of troubles.
  • Bremen Town Musicians: Farm animals in Germany seek their fortune in Bremen Town with their singing.

Grades 6-8: Tales For the Green Lady: Respecting and Protecting Our World
Entertaining tales that educate and encourage caring for the world we live in.

  • Sky Woman Comes Turtle Island: The Anishnaabe Creation Story
  • Byame and the First Flowers: An Australian Aboriginal story about the need for beauty in our world.
  • Thomas the Thatcher: A Scottish Traveller tale in which a king learns that we must make room for the birds and animals of the world.
  • The Magic Grove: When a young Khazak boy frees hundreds of captive birds he and his village are rewarded in a beautiful and surprising way.

Grades 7-10: The Peaceful Warrior
Pathways to Peace

  • Pine Pitch Man: Anger gets Rabbit into a sticky situation from which only quick wits can save him.
  • Kidnapped by Monkeys:  How can a big strong man free himself without hurting his monkey friends?
  • The First Strawberry: When a young husband hurts his wife with unkind words, he must find a way to catch up to her and apologize to her, but an angry woman walks fast…..
  • Noguchi the Warrior: An old man teaches an arrogant samurai that battles are not always won with a sword.
    The Chenoo: How does a young Cherokee woman defeat a cannibal that can not be defeated? With courage and kindness.

Grades 7-10: Romance, Love and Family Relationships
These tales explore some of the challenges to finding love.

  • First Strawberry: A Cherokee tale about healing a wounded relationship.
  • Skadi and Niord: A Norse story about a marriage that does not  work despite the best efforts of each partner.
  • Selkie Wife: Selkies are seals in human form. A Seal Woman is forced to marry a human who has hidden the sealskin that she needs to return to her home in the sea.
  • The Mermaid’s Ring: A young Scottish fisherlad finds out that a first love is not always true or final love,

Grades 9-10: The Folktale Sherlock, Riddle and Dilemma Tales.
Problem and Riddle solving in the world of the folktale.

  • The Wooden Sword: A Royal Guard has a problem: if he reveals his secret, he dies. If he doesn’t, he dies.
  • Dividing the Chicken:  A clever peasant divides a chicken for a baron’s family in a clever and humourous way.
  • Who is  Father of the Man: The elders of an African village must decide who is the true father of a hunter when two men claim the hunter as their son. Is the father the one who fathered the boy or the one taught the boy to become a great hunter.  The class gets to discuss the answer before the elders give their answer.
  • Who Does the Woman Choose? A young daughter must decide between two men who have equal claim to her hand. The class gets to discuss the answer before the daughter gives her decision.

Grades 5-12: Stretching the Facts to Fit the Truth: Ottawa Valley Tall Tales
I guarantee every word is as true as the next. Honest.

The Fish Mine, Black Bay Road Potholes, Grandpa Goes to Vaudeville, Almost, Stille Nacht, Helig Nacht, Lost Melody of Back Bay Road

Tales from the Four Winds: You Choose the Theme of the Presentation!

I have a personal library of 6,000 books of folktales, The Four Winds Storytellers Library. If you have an idea you wish to explore let me know the theme, the grade of the class and I will tailor a set to your specifications. I have sets on themes such as Trickster, Trees, Birds, Peace, Strong Woman, Stories about Stories, etc.


For over 25 years, accompanied by his penny whistle, storyteller Norman Perrin has been telling stories around southern Ontario, across Canada and around the world: Scotland, Switzerland, Israel, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The Story Fire is Kindled

In the spring of 1982 I attended my first storytelling event ever, the third annual festival of storytelling in Toronto, “Renewal of the Sacred Fire”  my first storyteller, Jamaica’s“Tim Tim”, aka Paul Keens-Douglas. Tim Tim’s dynamic powerful tales of Jamaican life told with pride and humour opened up the world of the storyteller for me. From that time on, I knew I wanted to be a storyteller but there was a lot to learn.

Over the next few years, as I listened to many storytellers my repertoire grew and I began to compose my own tales, woven from my imagination and and drawing upon my experiences growing up on Black Bay Road in the Ottawa Valley, and working in the orchards and farms of Ontario.

When I tell  the Brother Grimm’s “Bremen Town Musicians” a tale of an overworked donkey and animals I can imagine their landscape and know how they felt!

My start as a professional storyteller began in 1987 as Storyteller in residence for Pollution Probe’s Ecology House and Ecology Park in Toronto. It was there that I first began to use music and the penny whistle as part of my storytelling sessions for school groups who came to learn about ecology how to protect the environment. In 1990 a chance encounter at Ecology House with Toronto artist Paul Hogan  led to a profound change in the direction of my storytelling path. Paul was the founder of the Spiral Garden*, an outdoor interactive arts program for children undergoing physical rehab at the Hugh MacMillan Centre, now Holland Bloorview Centre. When he heard that I was a storyteller he invited me to the Spiral Garden develop  storytelling programs for the children and staff of the Garden. For 6 years I was storyteller for a diverse and challenging group of children who were gardening, painting, wood working, or simply chasing each other under the ancient trees of the Spiral Garden. One highlight was the day a dragonfly with a 12 foot wing span came to the Spiral Garden……..

To encourage creativity and storytelling by the children of the Spiral Garden I developed the Story Stone, a story composing activity for the children and adults of the Spiral Garden.

Participants would choose from a pile of small interesting items; a rusty key, a wooden lion, a nesting doll, place them on a flat stone and with the words “ Once Upon a Time…”  they entered the world of story creation with my help and guidance. It was very popular and became a part of the Butterfly Peace Garden of Sri lanka.

When a group of child psychologists, therapists and artists from Sri Lanka came to the Spiral Garden in1995 to study how the Spiral Garden’s methods might help them in the treatment of war affected children, they were excited by what they saw. That year Paul left Toronto and traveled to Batticaloa, Sri Lanka to  help found the Butterfly Peace  Garden.** Though the BPG is no longer running, for it’s 17 years it helped thousands of children in the war torn region and inspired other programs for children, such as the Mango Tree Garden in Cambodia.***

In 2003 I traveled to the Butterfly Peace Garden to conduct a week of Story Stone workshops  for the staff of Butterfly Peace Garden.

In the fall of 2013 the Story Stone and a selection of the story stone objects were packed into a custom made wooden box I started the Rolling Story Stone from Scotland to England, Switzerland, Israel, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It was set up in parks, on the street, a Waldorf school, a university campus and people’s kitchens seeding stories along the way. In the fall of 2017 I hope to take the Story Stone once again.

During this time, in addition to telling stories  in schools, museums and parksI ra storytelling events such as “Tales of the Green Lady”, which featured  traditional stories from the cultures of people who had lived in 19th century Toronto on the grounds of Toronto’s Colborne Lodge inToronto’s High Park, starting with First Nations storyteller Lenore Keeshig-Tobias from Nawash First Nation in the Bruce Peninsula.

The Four Winds Storytellers Library
Like many storytellers I liked to collect books,having a strong interest in the stories of different cultures and countries from around the world. I wanted to share the wealth, so when the collection reached 900+ volumes I opened up the Four Winds Storytellers Library in my apartment for the use of storytellers in Toronto. Since then it has grown to 6000 volumes covering just about every country in the world, including themed sections on Strong Women, Ghosts, Animals and Star Tales and has helped storytellers, authors and researchers from as far away as Bangladesh. It is currently set up in my apartment in Toronto’s Junction district.

I still love to hear and tell stories filled with the rich legacies of past storytellers who have tended the storyfires and kept them burning to the present day.

* Paul Hogan, Founder of Toronto’s Spiral Garden

** A description of The Butterfly Peace Garden by Joanna Santa Barbara

*** The Mango Tree Garden   

Praise for Norman Perrin

“Norman Perrin has a wonderfully eclectic repertoire of folktales and tall tales. His Ottawa Valley heritage gives his stories an understated humour, and his work with children in troubled parts of the world has made him a warm and compassionate teller. He also has an encyclopedic knowledge of the world’s oral traditions, and imparts to young audiences a great love of the spoken word and old-time tales.”
— Dan Yashinsky, Storyteller Co-founder of Storytelling Toronto, author of Suddenly He Heard Footsteps and various folktale collections.

“Norm has a wide repertoire, an engaging manner, and knows how to draw children into the spell of a story, first with his penny whistle, then with his enthusiasm and gentle humour.”
Marylyn Peringer,  Storyteller, co-resident teacher, Storytelling Toronto

“Norm’s love for sharing stories is evident through his skill as an oral storyteller; he is an original and remarkable storyteller – for children and adult listeners. Norm delivers family stories and folk and fairy tales with great conviction!  You would think all the stories are true and happened to Norm!

As an active member of our storytelling community in Toronto for over 25 years, Norm has told stories at Storytellers for Children events, participated in festivals such as the Toronto Storytelling Festival, Tales for a Summer Eve and Jewish Storytelling Festival and contributed to the Barrel of Stories newsletter using his 6000 volume library to write columns about the riches  and  wisdom contained in the world of the folktale.

Norm created the library because of his love of stories and the desire to spread them.”
Sally Jaeger, Storyteller, Founder of Storytellers For Children.

“Norm, It was such a pleasure to finally meet you! I just want to say thank you so much for participating in our event on Sunday.  Your stories were  incredibly well received  and the children totally captivated! Thank you for helping make our event such a success!”
 Risa Alyson Strauss, Children’s Garden & Exploring Toronto Programs

“I just wanted to thank you and Hugh again for spending Sunday with us at the Children’s Garden and for your excellent stories and funky rhythms! There were a lot of smiling children at the garden yesterday and I know that you two had a good hand in that!”
 Amanda Montgomery, Children’s Garden High Park, Toronto

“We are excited that you can join us for Harvest Festival again!”
 Keely, Recreationist, Children’s Garden and Exploring Toronto Programs