Sunday, June 19, 2011

Squeak a Lot, Buzz a Lot, etc.

Story: Squeak-a-Lot by Martin Waddell, Illustrated by Virginia Muller
Puppets: 2 Mice and a Cat, plus Bee, Chicken, and Dog or substitutes
Props: Bag or box out of which the puppets pop
Presenters: One
Audience: Toddler Time, Preschool Storytime
Link to "Storytelling with Puppets" video demo

I think of this as the perfect puppet story for three year olds, but it also stretches as low as one and up to five or six. It has several of those elements that make it ideal for puppets:

Enjoyable Language: I stick to Waddell’s words pretty closely, especially for the opening: “In an old, old house, lived a small, small mouse who had nobody to play with. So the small, small mouse went out of the house to find someone to play with. And he found….” The bit of rhyme and repetition catches their attention and moves neatly and quickly into the heart of the story.

Pop-outs: If you read this blog you know I love it when a story involves the anticipation of a puppet popping out of the bag, especially when you can draw it out with a little hesitation, as you can here with the “And he found…” And then pull out…”A bee!” Bee and Mouse decide to play a game, and since Mouse doesn’t know any games, Bee teaches him “Buzz-a-Lot,” which involves another of my favorite features:

Songs: You can make up any rhythm or tune for the songs. Mine is more of a chant that goes: “Buzz, buzz, buzz! [Bee] Buzz, buzz, buzz! [Mouse] Buzz, buzz, [Bee] buzz, buzz, [Mouse] buzz! [Both] You can do some simple puppet work here, with each puppet dancing a bit during their part, then both going straight at the audience on the last buzz, with a little double take thrown in: both look at audience, quickly turn to each other, then back to the audience.

More Language: I like the next refrain of: “But the Mouse didn’t like it a lot. So he went find a new friend, and he found….” He meets Dog (“Woof a Lot”) and Chicken (“Cluck a Lot”) with the same pattern. Or you can substitute any puppets. The repeated language holds the story together really nicely, and then just when the kids think they get the pattern, it leads to...

A Surprise: Now you get to insert a bit of tension and surprise: “and he found….[hesitate]…he found…[hesitate more, and look at the bag with a worried expression]….he found….A Cat!” [pop out Cat and have him menacingly close to Mouse]. This time the game is “Wham Bam Scram!” in the book, but I find that playing “Chase! The! Mouse!” seems to work better along with the puppet chase that ensues. And after Mouse finally escapes, we get to...

A Satisfying Ending: Mouse finally meets another Mouse, teaches him all the games he learned. (It’s a bunch of mice in the book, but one works fine) So you get a nice reprise of the songs and a variation on the verbal refrain: “and they both liked it a lot.” Finally they return to the old, old house and play…..”Sleep a Lot.”

The motion and pop-outs and song refrains are enough to keep the attention of ones and twos in a Toddler Time, but there’s enough story and humor to entertain fours and fives too.

1 comment:

  1. Wow-- an awesome book, Steve, that I didn't know about. You are such a valuable resource! Thanks for sharing (old librarian needing new tricks)