Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dog and Bear

Story: "Dog Changes His Name" (from Dog and Bear: Two Friends, Three Stories by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Props: Bear ears; Dog ears (or similar); Spotted something; Fluffy something; Crown; Boxing gloves or something like that; Rope; Scooter or Skates or something you can "zip" on
Puppets: none
Presenters: two
Audience: Family Storytime (mostly three to six year olds)

Laura Seeger’s “Dog and Bear” stories remind me a little bit of “Frog and Toad,” and they have some of the same elements that make the Lobel stories so good for puppets or acting-out: two main characters with distinct personalities, funny situations, and a bit of thoughtfulness too, without being preachy.
Sheila and I acted out “Dog Changes His Name” and played around with it a bit to get it right. In the book, Dog wants to change his name and with each name he thinks of, Bear imagines what Dog would look like, with the image showing in a thought balloon. For our first attempt, we kind of tried to replicate. As Dog, Sheila announced her idea for a name (“Spot,” to start with), then as Bear, I told the audience that I didn’t think that would work so well. Meanwhile Sheila zipped behind the backdrop and came out with a spotted coat on. The idea was that the audience sees Dog with the prop for his new name, but Bear doesn’t, he’s just imagining. It kind of worked and kind of didn’t. Sheila’s appearances were all very funny, but the idea that Bear was just thinking really didn’t come through at all. There are many things books can do that acting out just can’t replicate, and thought balloons are in that category.

For the next three performances (because we do four a week), Bear did see Dog in each of his guises, and it was more funny because Bear could react along with the audience. We managed to find pretty good props for each of Dog’s names: “Fluffy”: boas and some other fluffy stuff we had around; “Prince”: crown and royal robe; “Champ”: boxing gloves (actually we had some lobster claws (for some reason?) that looked like boxing gloves); “Skippy”: jump rope; and for the finale, “Zippy”: a scooter, which Sheila rode around crazily (but no children were injured).

The kids had fun with the spectacle of Dog’s costume changes, but they also got the final bit (and my favorite part) where, Bear decides that “My Best Friend Dog” should be the new name…and then they agree on "just DOG for short." 

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