Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Head, Body, Legs: story + scans

Book: Head, Body, Legs by Won-Ldy Paye & Margaret H. Lippert; Illustrated by Julie Paschkis
Puppets: none
Props: none
Technology: Scanned Illustrations
Presenters: One
Audience: K through 2nd grade

This is one of my favorite picture book folktales. Short enough to read in storytime, but also engaging enough for school-age kids. I’ve also told it orally and that works great too. For our K-2 Book Adventure in April (“Around the World Tales”) I decided to mostly tell it orally, but also use scans of selected illustrations. I showed one image each time a new body part arrived; and one image showing where the part attached. So when “Head was all alone,” the kids saw the picture of Head. We see the illustration of Arms when they show up. Then when Arms join head (right above the ears), we see that picture too. And the same pattern as Body and Legs appear and attach. Then we see the series of several illustrations that show all of the parts trying to arrange themselves in different combinations until they finally get it right.

So the idea was to keep the folktale-ish, storyteller’s feel of the story for the most part. But also add in key visual references. When I’ve told it just orally I know that the audience can visualize the oddly connected body parts in their heads. But the illustrations are so much fun, I liked using this method to bring them in. And as a teller I didn’t have to describe the placement of the body parts to make sure everyone was following; I could let the pictures cover that and focus more on the language and plot.

I’ve used visual props to fill in visual elements in other stories over the years, usually to make sure the younger side of the audience can follow: Holding up the vegetables for Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens; or showing a bed, a cat, and other elements to remind the kids about the nonsense words in Master of All Masters by Joseph Jacobs. Projecting selected illustrations is an interesting newer (for me at least) way to manage this, and for this story, at least, it worked pretty well.

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