Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Whose Mouse?

Book:  Whose Mouse are You  by Robert Kraus, Illustrated by Jose Aruego
Puppets:  Mouse, Mother Mouse, Father Mouse, Sister Mouse, Baby Mouse;  Cat
Props:  Basket (or something else for a Trap);  Car (or something else for Sister to travel Far From Home in)
Presenters:  One
Audience:   Toddler Time  (ones and twos), Preschoolers
Video:  How to Tell Whose Mouse are You? with Puppets

This is one of the first books I did with puppets and props, way back when I first started Toddler Times in 1990 or so.  And still a favorite.  The question and answer format of the text seems a little abstract for ones and twos, but they always seem to get it just fine, and I follow the words from the book pretty much exactly.  I especially like the slightly formal phrasing of the refrain: “what of your Father?...”

So it’s “Whose mouse are you?” (addressing Little Mouse).  “Nobody’s mouse…” says Little Mouse to me.  Then it’s: “Nobody’s mouse?  What of your mother?...?”  and so on.

I kind of draw out Little Mouse’s response, which heightens the suspense a bit plus gives me time to pull out the puppets and props:  “My Mother?  My mother?  [Pull out Mother Mouse]  My mother is…….Caught by a cat!” [Pull out Cat puppet and have her pounce (but not too menacingly) on top of Mother Mouse].  Shake head sadly and ask:  “What of your father?...” 

For this story I place puppets and props on a table rather than stuffing them back into a bag after they appear.  So eventually you’ve got Mother under the cat, Father inside trap (a basket, bowl, or anything traplike), and Sister far from home (in a toy car) all lined up on the table.

At which point the story turns around in a way that’s very satisfying to two year olds:  Little Mouse saves each one.  I have him first declare what he’ll do:  “I’ll save my mother from the cat!” and then show him doing it.  It’s best to go slow with the puppet actions so the very young kids can process it and fully enjoy the sight of Little Mouse pulling Fother out of that trap and tossing that Cat into the air. 

It ends with "Now whose mouse are you?," and Little Mouse lists off his family members, much hapier now.  And there's a very pleasing added twist:  "I'm my brother's mouse!"  Confused Narrator asks:  "Your brother's mouse?!" (because earlier Mouse had said "I have none.")  But now Little Mouse repeats:  "My brother's Mouse!......He's brand new!"  And you pull out your cute little finger puppet mouse (or whatever smallish mouse you can find). 

As a storyteller, tone of voice goes a long way in this story, and you can be pretty broad with them:  worried when Mouse describes his family’s perils; triumphant when he rescues them; pleased when they’re safe; and surprised with Little Brother pops out.  Although it’s a story with puppets, I really think it’s the storytelling that makes it work.  And it’s always fun to notice how strongly even very young children respond to the voices and facial expressions of a storyteller.

We’re on a six week programming break at my library, hence the reduced number of posts here.  But we start up full speed in mid-September, which means more frequent posts soon…

1 comment:

  1. So much fun! I am actually hankering to have my own storytime after reading these posts.