ANDOVER — Well-known storyteller Susan Lenoe of Andover has turned the popular preschool story hour page at Andover Bookstore for the last time. After 25 years, she’s like the last page of a good book. Sadly, she’s done.
The 77-year-old grandmother said it’s simply time to hand her bookmark over to another storyteller.
Professional storyteller and teaching artist Nicolette Nordin Heavey of Andover will take over the storytelling sessions, held on Friday mornings at 10.
“The time has come where I can’t quite lead them in the jumping and marching quite as easily as I could in the past. And, with toddlers, you need some stretches and activities,” Lenoe said. “I said to myself, ‘Susan, you can sit and tell, and let them jump and touch their toes or tummies, but I always ended up doing it, too."
Lenoe, a 50-year resident of Andover who once worked as the children’s book buyer at the bookstore and was in charge of the children’s department, will be missed by her young listeners, scores of parents and grandparents and many others who are very familiar with her storytelling.
“It’s been 25 years of pure amazement and wonderment. Susan is an Andover and Bookstore legend,” said John Hugo, who owns Andover Bookstore.
Lenoe said she will continue her area appearances portraying the historical women who she affectionately calls “the old ladies.”
She has impersonated famed writer Harriet Beecher Stowe numerous times around town. And she is booked to perform as Anne Bradstreet at the Amesbury Public Library on Saturday, Oct. 25 at 2 p.m.
Meanwhile, Heavey, a storyteller for 12 years, said Lenoe has been a great mentor to her. In fact, Lenoe’s enthusiasm for the art form of storytelling is what compelled Heavey to become a storyteller herself.
“I remember the wonder in my children’s eyes when they listened to Susan spread her story magic, and now that my children have graduated from college, I strive to create the same effect upon my young listeners,” Heavey said. “I couldn’t be more pleased that she asked me to lead the Friday story times at the Andover Bookstore.”
A STORYTELLER'S BOOK REPORT
Role of a storyteller: I do love books, especially children’s books. Books are not only narratives, but often have glorious illustrations. The storyteller, though, has a bit of a different intention, which is to tell the tale from her/his own mind and heart, interacting with the listeners and (if we’re lucky) getting them to imagine or see the pictures in their own minds. So, we stir their imaginations up. We might use movement and gesture, different voices and even have them participate in the story, making noises or repeating phrases like “someone’s been sleeping in my bed.”
First introduction to stories: I must tell you that I started as a little girl loving the fairy tales. I used to dress up and think I was in the tales myself.
Favorite book to read: “Caps for Sale” because it has lots of monkeys in it for kids to pretend to be and a salesman who keeps calling out “caps for sale, caps for sale” so the audience has a good line to repeat. And, there are lots of hats in the story that the sales guy, or peddler, carries on his head. That’s a great project for an older child or for me to demonstrate.
Favorite children’s book author: One of my favorite authors and artists is William Steig. He wrote “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble,” which received a Caldecott Medal. And “Brave Irene” about a little girl who is a hero. He’s very playful, but somehow thoughtful, too. He was also a cartoonist and wrote “Shrek.” For a more contemporary author, I like Mo Willems. He wrote “Knuffle Bunny” and “Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.”
Why story time for preschoolers matters: Stories really are basic to all of us whether we know it or not. In a way, life is a story. For me, I always loved to hear stories and I was lucky to hear plenty of them as a child. My grandchildren never tire of hearing the story of their being born — where, what the weather was like, what they looked like when I first laid eyes on them.