de Vos, Gail 1949–
de Vos, Gail 1949–
Born May 7, 1949, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; daughter of Cecil (a jeweler) and Lillian (a sales manager) Shukster; married L. Peter de Vos, May 8, 1976; children: Esther, Taryn. Education: University of Alberta, B.Ed., 1971, M.L.S., 1988.
Storyteller, 1988—. University of Alberta, adjunct associate professor, 1988—. Former secondary school teacher.
Exporting Alberta Award, Canadian Authors Association, 1996, for Telling Tales: Storytelling in the Family; award of merit, Association for Media Technology in Education in Canada, 1998, for a distant learning course on Canadian literature for young people in schools and libraries; Storytelling World Awards, 2000, for New Tales for Old: Folktales as Literary Fiction for Young Adults, 2002, for Tales, Then and Now: More Folk Tales as Young Adult Literary Fictions, and 2005, for Telling Tales, 2nd edition; award of merit, Learning Resources Council, Alberta Teachers' Association, 2001.
Storytelling for Young Adults: Techniques and Treasury, Libraries Unlimited (Englewood, CO), 1991, 2nd edition published as Storytelling for Young Adults: A Guide to Tales for Teens, 2003.
(With Merle Harris) Telling Tales: Storytelling in the Family, Dragon Hill (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1995, 2nd edition (with Harris and Celia Barker Lottridge), University of Alberta Press (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 2003.
Tales, Rumors, and Gossip: Exploring Contemporary Folk Literature in Grades 7-12, Libraries Unlimited (Englewood, CO), 1996.
(With Anna E. Altmann) New Tales for Old: Folktales as Literary Fiction for Young Adults, Libraries Unlimited (Englewood, CO), 1999.
(With Anna E. Altmann) Tales, Then and Now: More Folk Tales as Young Adult Literary Fictions, Libraries Unlimited (Englewood, CO), 2001.
Creator of a distant learning course on Canadian literature for young people in schools and libraries. Work represented in anthologies, including Share a Tale: Canadian Stories to Tell Children and Young Adults, Canadian Library Association, 1995; Ghostwise: A Book of Midnight Stories, edited by Dan Yashinsky, Ragweed Press, 1997; and True North: Canadian Essays for Composition, edited by Janice MacDonald, Addison-Wesley (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 1999. Contributor to periodicals, including School Libraries in Canada, Quill and Quire, Alberta Museums Review, and Teacher-Librarian Today.
Canadian storyteller Gail de Vos has done much to popularize storytelling, particularly for young adults, an audience that had long been neglected by performers and scholars alike. After conducting research for a master's degree in library science, de Vos, a one-time secondary school teacher, decided that she would like to share her findings with a wider audience. "I consider myself first and foremost a storyteller and my writing has sprung from the desire to communicate the research that I have uncovered about stories, storytelling and particularly, about young adults as audiences for stories," de Vos commented. With the goal of demonstrating the importance of telling stories, she wrote Storytelling for Young Adults: Techniques and Treasury. The work contains hundreds of stories for young adults arranged by genre, as well as a how-to manual of storytelling techniques, strategies for bringing storytelling into the library and classroom, and an explanation of the value of listening to stories.
According to RQ reviewer Ellin Green, de Vos "succeeds admirably" in meeting her goal. Evie Wilson-Lingbloom observed in Voice of Youth Advocates that de Vos's arguments and suggestions would dispel misconceptions that contemporary teenagers would not be interested in listening to storytellers. In the opinion of Kristin Ramsdell of American Reference Books Annual, Storytelling for Young Adults presents "a wealth of useful information, creative ideas, and story suggestions."
Tales, Rumors, and Gossip: Exploring Contemporary Folk Literature in Grades 7-12 "came about because of the fascination audiences had with the one chapter [dealing with the topic] in Storytelling for Young Adults," de Vos explained. "Workshops and school visits began to focus on the urban legends and so grew that book." In Tales, Rumors, and Gossip the author explains the structure and value of legends in society, explores the value of gossip and rumor (including newscasts), and categorizes modern legends and their variants. "A scholarly yet entertaining compendium" is how Nancy Bell described the work in her School Library Journal review. Wilson-Lingbloom of Voice of Youth Advocates cited Tales, Rumors, and Gossip for its high-quality research and readability and called the work "delightful reading yet scholarly and eminently useful."
With Anna E. Altmann, de Vos continued to promote storytelling for young adults in New Tales for Old: Folktales as Literary Fiction for Young Adults and Tales, Then and Now: More Folktales as Young Adult Literary Fictions, which serve as discussion guides to the plethora of new versions of traditional fairy tales. In the first book, the authors describe and discuss such common tales as "Cinderella," "Little Red Riding Hood," "Snow White," "The Frog Prince," "Rapunzel," "Rumplestiltskin," "Sleeping Beauty," and "Hansel and Gretel." They review the historical development of each tale, including different versions in a variety of media. They then discuss interpretations ranging from feminist to psychoanalytic. Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman called New Tales for Old a "lively guide to stimulate discussion," and Judy Sokoll of School Library Journal described the work as a "feast for fans of folklore" and an "excellent resource."
De Vos once commented about her evolving interests: "I have become increasingly interested in the correlation between oral storytelling and the reading of comic books and am focusing on convincing others that comic books and graphic novels deserve respect and space in school and public libraries."
In describing the second edition of Storytelling for Young Adults, de Vos told CA: "This volume includes two special stories for me: one told by me and my youngest daughter and the second told by the same daughter and her husband. It is proof that storytelling with teens leads to storytelling adults."
De Vos also told CA: "I consider myself first and foremost a storyteller and a writer only by accident. Because I am so very curious about the history of traditional stories and the way they continually are reshaped by successive generations, I research them in great detail. And then of course, I need to tell others about my findings; thus, the writing of books.
"As a result of the original research on folktales, I became reintroduced to the comic book format and recognized that the comic book has close affinity to the oral tale. I began to research them and have been teaching an online course on comic books and graphic novels for the University of Alberta for several years. Here I get to explore topics that I haven't had a chance to write about more formally. But writings are there, just waiting in the wings.
"One of the most exciting repercussions of my writing career has been having my daughter Taryn become involved, not necessarily as the writer, but as an extremely effective reader for me as I do my research. I do not think that I would be able to write as knowledgeably without her input and patience. I also award a large thanks to her husband Lawrence for his patience as we read and discuss books and articles and tales constantly when we get together. I also thank my own husband for being so supportive while I am writing—during this time I rarely have to anything around the house except walk the dog—and that is for my own sake as much as for the dog. My eldest daughter is also there as a sounding board.
"So, for me, the writing process is a family affair for the most part, although I must admit, I write better when I am totally alone and the dogs are not barking!"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Reference Books Annual, 1992, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Storytelling for Young Adults: Techniques and Treasury, p. 244.
Booklist, October 1, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of New Tales for Old: Folktales as Literary Fiction for Young Adults, p. 367; December 1, 2003, Shauna Yusko, review of Storytelling for Young Adults: A Guide to Tales for Teens, p. 699.
Canadian Folk Music Bulletin, fall, 2003, review of Storytelling for Young Adults: A Guide to Tales for Teens.
Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science, December, 2004, Pam Harris, review of Telling Tales: Storytelling in the Family, 2nd edition.
Resource Links, February, 2004, Kathryn McNaughton, review of Telling Tales, 2nd edition, p. 48.
RQ, spring, 1992, Ellin Green, review of Storytelling for Young Adults: Techniques and Treasury, pp. 451-452.
School Library Journal, December, 1996, Nancy Bell, "Folk Legends of Today," p. 46; July, 2000, Judy Sokoll, review of New Tales for Old, p. 131; February, 2004, Susannah Price, review of Storytelling for Young Adults: A Guide to Tales for Teens, p. 175.
Texas Speech Communication Journal, winter, 2004, review of Storytelling for Young Adults: A Guide to Tales for Teens.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1992, Evie Wilson-Lingbloom, review of Storytelling for Young Adults: Techniques and Treasury, p. 403; October, 1996, Evie Wilson-Lingbloom, review of Tales, Rumors, and Gossip: Exploring Contemporary Folk Literature in Grades 7-12, p. 242; February, 2004, review of Storytelling for Young Adults: A Guide to Tales for Teens.