CD and Publications

1001 Years of 1001 Nights

1001 Years of 1001 Nights

Tales from Scheherazade

retold by Mary Grace Ketner

$12.95 -- Easy to order from: or




Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

The Peddler of Swaffham

Old Dry Fry

See CD review by Megan Hicks in her blog, Life, the universe and everything, “And now for something completely different...”


Read more of Scheherazade’s stories!


See Virginia Frances Sterrett’s other beautiful 1928 illustrations for The Arabian Nights

The stories collectively known as Alf Layla wah-Laylah started coming together about a millennium ago (800-1100 A.D.) as tales told by legendary Persian princess Scheherazade to save her own life and the lives of her whole generation of women from an angry and violent sultan.  As an exact date, 1010 A.D. seemed as good a guess as any, hence my suggestion of a one-thousand-first anniversary.

The stories were already ancient when they were collected under Scheherazade’s name, but by that act, they were frozen in time together with her own tale, the frame story which explains why we find them all together.  We actually know only that the tales were around by then. 

The title also affirms that the stories live on.  For all those subsequent years, they have continued to evolve as they were told and retold by grandmothers and soldiers and Walt Disney and spinsters and old geezers who may never have heard of Alf Layla wah-Laylah.  There is no trapping stories in a box! Or a book!  The telling of an engaging tale cannot be stopped!

In another sense, the collection was never frozen in time!  Generations of storytellers and folklorists and writers and publishers have omitted some stories and added new ones--that is, additional old ones--to the list.  We are told that only once did such a published collection contain exactly 1001 tales, for like “40 days and 40 nights” or “a year and a day,” “1001 nights” simply means a long period of time now ended.

In this enchanting and thoughtful collection, Mary Grace recounts Scheherazade’s own story along with one of the best known tales of the classical list, and a couple of stories associated with later times and places but whose roots in the oral narrative tradition trail back to the amazing fantasies and adventures which charmed away the ancient sultan’s anger.  Those final two assure us that her stories are not dead nor lost.  Oh, no!  Storytellers have sustained them throughout the intervening thousand and one years and continue to do so to this very day!

"I hear many storytellers, and I listen to many  storytelling CDs.
But rarely do I come upon recordings that engage me as these two have."

--Susannah Holstein
Read both reviews together on Granny Sue's News and Reviews



San Antonio Artist Marilyn DeKing’s compelling watercolor image of “Pretty Maid Ibronka” serves as the cover design for Ghostly Gals and Spirited Women


"It’s excellent. My current favorite is the story of Chien Nang, especially with the way she framed the story with her own personal story."

Don Sanders, Texas Storyteller and Musician.

"Her voices on La Llorona -- so scary!  It’s truly a cautionary tale about rivers -- and men who "don't put a ring on it." I love the song she made for "The Lute Player," I could feel the tug of conflicting duties in "Chien Nang, and I was fascinated with the story of Miss Annie -- what a life!"

Mary Garrett, Missouri Storyteller

Ghostly Gals & Spirited Women

Tales old and new of women who transgress, transform, or transfix – and transcend!

$12.95 -- Easy to order from: or



La Llorona: If you ask a hundred people in south Texas to tell you about La Llorona, you’ll hear a hundred different stories, all of them true.

The Lute Player: In this Slavic tale of enchantment, the king’s midlife crisis leads the queen to spirited action and a most loving response.

Pretty Maid Ibronka: “If only I had a sweetheart, even if the devil he were!”  Ibronka’s wistful sigh summons a devil indeed, an oopir, into this haunting Hungarian fairy tale.

Miss Annie: East Texas clairvoyant Annie Buchanan West used her spiritual powers to help others in many ways, including locating oil for Howard Hughes.

Chien Nang: Did Chien Nang abandon her father? Or deny her beloved? Or neither? This Chinese tale of an irrepressible spirit has healing powers.

The Condiment Basketball Game: Have I ever experienced that transformative spirit myself?  Just once, and I’m here to tell you about it!


“I had a most delightful ride home from work last night listening to Mary Grace's many voices in her beautiful, sometimes funny, always engaging stories from the CD, GHOSTLY GALS & SPIRITED WOMEN. The playful, inviting use of music, voice, echo, and more, kept me wondering what would happen next.”

Vanessa Potter, Storytelling in Texas, Inc.



Mary Grace Ketner


Recent articles, stories or interviews:

“Barking Mouse Meets Nicklebee,”  article on storytelling and state standards, Storytelling Magazine, September-October 2009. Article available as PDF.

Scary Stories“Pretty Maid Ibronka,” story and Telling Tips in The August House Book of Scary Stories, August House 2009.

“Sinukuan, the Judge,” “The Fly” and “The Flea” published in Bees, Beetles, Butterflies and other Beguiling Bugs: Folklore, Songs and Stories from Around the World, (pp. 71, 82, and 154 respectively.) collected by Jackie Baldwin.  Sonoma, CA, Story Lovers World, 2008.

“Let the Stories Come,” chapter in Tell the World: Storytelling Across Language Barriers by Margaret Read MacDonald, p. 146-147.  Westport, CN, Libraries Unlimited, 2008.

“How to Tell a Good Story,” Sombrilla Magazine, Spring, 2008. (Staff article based on interview.) Article available as PDF.

Cover Story for Storytelling Magazine, March-April, 2007 is my version of “Sinukuan.” Article available as PDF.

Interviewed by Lori Silverman for Wake Me When the Data Is Over: How Organizations Use Stories to Drive Results regarding the radio program “LIFETIMES: The Texas Experience,” 2006.

Ganzy Remembers“Scheherazade Was Right!” article on Arab Storytelling and Banks Multicultural Typology,  July-August 2005 issue of Storytelling Magazine. Article available as PDF.

“La Llorona,” in Bare Bones for Storytellers, Volume 4, Halloween, Story-Lovers World, Sonoma CA, 2004.

Ganzy Remembers (Atheneum, 1991), Mary Grace’s children’s picture book about family stories, is now available as a used book at Amazon. Ganzy Remembers is a Banks Street College selection, Best Children’s Books of 1991.

The two award-winning audiotapes Mary Grace produced for UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures, Many Tricksters, and “Yikes! Scary Stories from the Texas Folklife Festival” are out of production.

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