One of my favorite stories is ‘I’m Tipingee’ from her collection, The Magic Orange Tree.( You can hear this story on the SAI YouTube Channel ) It is a story of community, among other things, and it has brought community to me through the telling of it.‘Tipingee’ became a favorite of an elementary school in Glen Rock, New Jersey. For 12 years I told stories in this K-5 school. I taught students and teachers how to tell stories. The school year of stories culminated with a school wide storytelling festival. Everyone, students and teachers, told stories for an afternoon. Before splitting up into small mixed age groups, the school population would gather to start the afternoon with an annual telling of Tipingee. Everyone knew the story; everyone chanted and sang as one. Imagine 350 kids and teachers listening so quietly and then bursting into “I’m Tipingee. She’s Tipingee. We’re Tipingee, too.” We all delighted in the experience together. Diane writes of this extraordinary community in the introduction to the 20th anniversary edition of The Magic Orange Tree.
Professionally Tipingee has broadened my community as well. I tell ‘Tipingee’ in tandem with other tellers. With Elizabeth Nordell (SAI) I tell an English/Creole version. With Julie Pasqual (SAI) I tell an English/Sign Language version. In this way we spread the story to others.
‘I’m Tipingee’ will always have a special place in my heart. I thank Diane for bringing it to our storytelling community that we may pass it on.--Julie Della Torre
Diane Wolkstein grew up one town over from where I live, so when I first started appearing in local storytelling events, audience members often asked if I knew her. I didn't at first, but when the opportunity availed itself to take a series of workshops with her I signed up. I trekked in and out of a bitterly cold New York City to her apartment on Patchin Place in Greenwich Village. There I was warmed by the stories shared and by her welcoming smile. Her collection of Haitian stories, The Magic Orange Tree, is a legacy Diane Wolkstein gifted not only to the storytelling community, but story lovers everywhere.