Deedy: Ball of storytelling energy

Published 9:34 pm Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The title of Carmen Agra Deedy’s CD, “Growing Up Cuban in Decatur, Georgia is intriguing but not nearly as fascinating as hearing the popular storyteller on stage.

“Carmen Deedy is a ball of energy,” said Susan Renfroe, Goshen Elementary School librarian.

“I’ve been fortunate to hear her in person and I just loved her. She’s so expressive and fast-paced. She talks with her whole body.”

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“She kept us laughing the whole time. And, she talked a lot about her family so I could relate to her stories. I’m looking forward to seeing her on stage again. It’s going to be a real treat. Anybody who sees Carmen Deedy is going to want to see her again.”

Deedy will be one of four nationally acclaimed storytellers featured at the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival this weekend at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge and the Trojan Center Theater in Troy.

Renfroe said her husband was up before sunrise to get in line for tickets to the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival when they went on sale Jan. 2.

“I didn’t want to take a chance on missing Carmen Deedy,” Renfroe said.

“All of the other tellers will be great, too. But, I’m a librarian and she is one of the most outstanding children’s authors that I have ever read. Her books are very popular with the children at Goshen.”

“‘The Library Dragon’ is one of their favorites as is ‘Martina the Beautiful Cockroach,’ which is a Cuban folktale.”

Deedy will tell stories to fourth and fifth grade students from Troy City Schools and Banks School at TES on Friday.

Sen. Wendell Mitchell provided grant funds to the local school systems to make Deedy’s performance possible.

Deedy was born in Havana, Cuba and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1963 after the Cuban Revolution.

She grew up in Decatur, Ga.

As a storyteller, she has performed across the United States and Canada at venues, including the Disney Institute, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Kennedy Center, the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and as a featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival.

Rick Smolan described his “Carmen Deedy encounter” in the San Francisco Chronicle as an emotional roller coaster ride.

“Deedy had you laughing and then, in five words, had everyone in tears,” he said.

Coki Roberts, best-selling author and senior news analyst for National Public Radio, said Deedy is one of the true American success stories.

The secret of Deedy’s success will be evident when she takes the stage this weekend at the Third Annual Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival, Renfroe said.

“She is an incredible storyteller and I can’t imagine that anyone would not enjoy her as much as I do.”

Tickets for the Saturday morning and Saturday night storytelling concerts at the Trojan Center Theater are available by calling 334-735-3125 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. through Friday.

Other concerts are sold out. The Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival is sponsored by the Brundidge Historical Society with support from Troy University, the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.