June 2013

I’m not sure what time it is, but I know I’m home again. Debbie and I have returned from our month long trip to New Zealand, and we’ll be processing images and memories for a long time to come.



We flew first to Invercargill (four flights, about 26 hours) the southernmost part of the south island where I performed at an arts festival and in some local schools with Geraldine Buckley, another teller from the States, hosted by the very unique and wonderful Liz Miller (and her two dogs, who accompanied us everywhere). Like I said in a Facebook post, a school show in New Zealand is like a school show in the States – and we had a blast.


We were lucky enough to get a tour of the beautiful Bluff marae (Maori community house), and heard a number of stories from our host. I was very much struck by how the Maori have names and stories for all the places on the islands – their sense of being is rooted in their place. With the commitment on the government’s part to honor the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi made with the Maori, you can begin to understand how that sense of place has influenced the entire culture. Kiwis are very much made by the land the live in – a lesson we all could learn.

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After my work, Debbie and I drove around the South Island (me driving, Debbie holding any handles available while I tried to stay on the right, and I mean left, side of the road). Most spectacular were Milford and Doubtful Sounds, huge fiords with waterfalls cascading off 1000-foot cliffs.

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We rode bikes thirty miles across high desert and through gorges on the Central Otago Bike trail and ended up, completely by accident at a Bush Poetry Festival (cowboy poets of the antipodes) in a funky pub. I was waiting for a chance to recite “Dirty Joe”, but the night went on and on and my head finally hit the table, so we headed to our room.

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We traveled along the east coast through Timaru (that beautiful word is in a song almost done), up through Christchurch where our hearts broke walking through the earthquake-leveled downtown of that beautiful city, then up to the Marlborough district where we rode bikes through the vineyards. (Yes, we stopped).

Rebuilding the Cathedral in Christchurch

Sheeps eating grapes

at the end of the harvesting season the sheep cut the grass in the vineyards of Marlborough


We finished up with four days in Wellington, the capital, where Judith Jones, a Kiwi storyteller, hosted a dinner for us with a bunch of other artists and friends, including our Providence pal M.J. Kaplan, there on a Fulbright scholarship. Judith’s husband Tony works at Te Papa, the incredible national museum, and he gave us a private tour.


In one of my stories about growing up, I talk about traveling and say, "I finally started asking the question that all travelers ask. I stopped asking 'Who are they?' and I started asking 'Who am I?'" Traveling and being open to the world around you does that to you. Our identities are always up for grab – the world we see affects who we are and makes us different. My thanks to the many kindnesses shown us by everyone we met in New Zealand.


And finally, I should mention I got home in time for a whirlwind trip to NYC to promote "Charlie Bumpers vs. Teacher of the Year" – I gave a 3 minute book talk 19 times in one hour. On jet lag. Then, we headed back home for the First Annual Red Bandana Concert to establish an award that honors my dear departed friend Richard Walton.

Now, I’m doing nothing for an hour or two. Or three. More soon.

Be kind.

From the Office

For long journeys and short jaunts let Bill Harley's stories and songs join you for the ride!

CD $10

Full Album Download $4

select downloads 1/2 off regular price (see below!)


Blah Blah Blah

Joey, Chloe, and the Swamp Monsters: 2.00

King of the Clams: 1.50

High Dive

Field Trip: 2.00

High Dive: (great for trips to the pool!) 1.50


Yes to Running!

Mrs. Ammons and the Boys' Room: (great for the last day of school!) 2.00

The Teachers' Lounge: 2.00

Battle of the Mad Scientists

The Battle of the Mad Scientists: 2.00

Mrs. Ammons and the Boys' Room: (great for the last day of school!) 1.50

Mistakes Were Made (great for Adult Bill fans!)

Why I Bought a Sailboat: 1.50

Bats: 1.50


Best Candy in the Whole World

Best Candy in the Whole World: 1.50

Jack and the Singing Leaves: 2.00

Weezie and the Moonpies

Weezie and the Moonpies: 2.00

Mrs. Lunchroom Lady: 2.00

Cool in School

Zanzibar: 2.00

Forget that Girl: 2.00


Grownups are Strange

Grandma vs. the Headless Man: (great for backyard campouts!) 2.00

Happy Birthday Mrs. Nottingham!!!: 2.00

From the Back of the Bus

Bottlecaps: 2.00

Mr. Anderson, Indiana State Bus Driver of the Year: 2.00

Play It Again

You're Not the Boss of Me: 1.00

One More Time

Alicia and the Little Monster: 1.50

  Sale ends August 21, 2013  
  Shows and Stuff  

Bill's going to be at a lot of different libraries, operahouses and other outdoor venues across the US this summer, as well as a teachers' workshop in Bangor, PA. Here's the quick list

June 21-22: Brandywine Storytelling Festival in Kennett Square, PA

June 29: Family Concert at the Jesse Smith Memorial Library in Harrisville, RI

July 9 & 10: Family Concerts at the Boulder Reservoir, Main Library and Meadows Library in Boulder, CO

July 16: Family Concert at the Crawford Library in Dudley, MA

July 17: Family Concert at the Seekonk Public Library in Seekonk, MA

July 19-21: The Teaching Power of Stories Workshops in Bangor, PA

August 7: Family Concert at the Stonington Opera House in Stonington, ME

August 8: Family Concert at the Boothbay Opera House in Boothbay Harbor, ME

August 13: Family Concert at Slater Park in Pawtucket, RI

August 15: Family Concert at Easton's Beach in Newport, RI

Be sure to check Bill's calendar for updates (some outside concerts will be moved indoors or rescheduled if necessary)

www.billharley.com & Round River Productions
301 Jacob St
Seekonk, Massachusetts 02771
800-682-9522 Michele@billharley.com