Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Animals, Clothing, and Google Images

Book: Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judy and Ron Barrett
Technology: Scanner, Projector
Presenters: 1 storyteller
Audience: Family Storytime

This book is a sure-fire storytime hit that I’ve used for years, but the illustrations won’t carry for our 100+ Family Storytime groups. In the past I’ve pondered about how to do this with puppets or stuffed animals, but the prospect of sewing pants for a stuffed chicken, overalls for a moose, and all the rest is way too daunting, even if I had great sewing skills instead of none at all. It seemed like a natural for scanning and projecting, though. I think doing the pictures straight would have worked fine, just replicating and going through the book on a larger scale. But with the projector, you can’t help but think: what else can we do? And it turned out there was something.

Each page turn of the book shows an animal wearing clothing that is clearly wrong in a funny way: The pig in a coat and tie (“too messy”), the snake slithering out of too big pants…. So I decided to preface each of those with a photo of a real animal, then a photo of the type of clothing we’re about to see on it. So it went like this: “If a snake [click to photo of snake] wore clothes [click to photo of pajama bottoms], it would….lose them!” [click to funny illustration from the book]. It built up the anticipation in a different way and gave me a little more to play with as narrator in terms of timing. I felt it was true to the spirit of the book, and the scanned illustrations were still the punch line each time.

It was pretty simple to find workable pictures with Google images. I tried to get clothes that were somewhat similar to the ones in the book, but it wasn’t crucial to match that close…they still got the joke. Now I find myself thinking about projection possibilities when I evaluate books for possible storytime use....but I still think about puppets first.

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