Sometimes, the day-to-day repetitiveness wears you down and you feel uninspired. I especially felt this way after a whole fall of very little programming due to budget cuts. And by little programming, I mean Storytime, desk time, and then the million other things that you do off desk but aren’t always as much fun as getting your hands dirty and trying something new. A great thing happened, though, we got a new librarian! One of our branch librarians left the system for another coveted position in a great system, and we were lucky enough that the City approved her spot to be filled – and by a great librarian and fellow UCLA grad.
The best thing about new hires is that you don’t want to look lame, right? You want to look like someone they want to work with. So, I took myself out of my storytime rut and decided I was long overdue for a full-on puppet show. The lat storytime puppet show I did was Dear Zoo during the summer, and the kids loved it. I decided to pull out the Bark, George idea I saw on the same website I got the Dear Zoo idea and work with it.
When I do something like this, I get a little neurotic on the nuances. The same goes for my flannel making – I obsess over whether drawing eyes is okay or should I make googly eyes or should I make eyes out of felt or glitter or, or or… My co-worker likes to remind me that my audience is not that judgmental and are a pretty accepting bunch. Toddlers tend to be like that. With this puppet show, I first held off because I wanted to MAKE a Bark, George puppet. There used to be a pre-made one that I’d seen somewhere, someday, where you pulled all the animals out of George’s mouth. There was a bag inside his mouth in which you stored the puppets. So, I was going to do that, but I started thinking…
1. I don’t want to buy an expensive puppet and then start surgery just to mess him up and then we have Frankendog who can only come out at Halloween
and, the most important…
2. In the book, the animals all come out life-sized. They’re not miniature versions. They’re proportional to George as they would be in the wild. So pulling a finger-puppet sized animal out of my large dog puppet George was not settling well with me. How could I possibly fit animals as large or larger than George into his stomach? It was impossible!
On the website, they use slight of hand and the toddlers’ ability to suspend disbelief to pull out the puppets of varying sizes. They stored theirs in a bag. I got the idea to use a copy paper box turned on its side. The top of the box could act as the Vet table and I could easily hide the animals inside the box and pull out as needed. I got a pair of latex gloves (I was hoping for a lab coat, too, but no one had one I could borrow) and slapped them on when I become the vet.
The story was an absolute success. It was my best telling of Bark, George yet. The kids even got the twist at the end – which I would say 50% of them get when I use the book – but most of the room got it with the puppets. When I pulled out the horse – Oh my goodness. Those kids went wild. They couldn’t believe it! I was happier than a clam.
This story was easy to set-up and easy to take down. Once storytime is over, we open the wall of the storytime room so that the kids can play. This was problematic when I did Dear Zoo because I had about 10 large boxes, 2 library trucks, and 30 kids running around. Needless to say, some of the boxes fell off the cart and I had a parent help me schlep all my stuff into the office. Bark, George, though, was 1 box that conveniently carried all the puppets easily into the back to be put away. I think this would be a good starter puppet show for anyone wanting to see what its like. It’s an easy story and an instant crowd pleaser in any form. A great confidence boost!