Sunday, March 11, 2012

Grandpa Toad and the Scanned Enemies

Book:  Grandpa Toad's Secrets  by Keiko Kasza
Puppets:  None
Props:  Frog hats or something else froggy to wear
Presenters:  Two
Technology:  Projector for scanned illustrations
Audience:  Family Storytime (mostly 3-6 year olds)

Keiko Kasza is a favorite of mine (and of many Storytime presenters). Her books have just the right amount of action and humor, and are usually paced just right for group sharing. For a "Monsters" themed Family Storytime, Terri and I decided to do Grandpa Toad's Secrets, which I've shared often as a straight read aloud in the past. For our larger group, we decided to combine an "act-out" with selected scanned illustrations from the book.

So as Grandpa I explain to Terri (as Little Toad) how we toads must be brave when facing enemies. Then the illustration with the hidden Snake creeps across the screen, while Little Toad says "I don't see any enemies." This brings the kids into it, as they point out the image behind us. We take a look, then show another image, this one of the snake stretched menacingly above (appearing with a "zoom" effect to make it a bit dramatic). Grandpa Toad then talks directly to the Snake on the screen about how toads can be too big to eat, and "puffs himself up." The image switches to one of the Snake bending down crestfallen, then a bit more simple animation as he slides off of the screen.

We follow the same pattern with the Snapping Turtle. One image of him hiding; one of him threatening; and one where Grandpa Toad has tricked him, and an exit. Just using selected illustrations like this keeps the focus on the characters, and when the images appear we interact with them as if they were puppets or people....kind of different, but it works. We're also careful to retain Kasza's well-chosen phrases: like the way Grandpa Toad declares "Not a bit!" when Little Toad asks if he's scared, for example, which sets up the twist that comes next neatly. 

The third creature is a "humungous Monster," and this time Grandpa Toad is scared, and runs away. In the book, the Monster grabs Grandpa and is about to eat him. We couldn't figure out how to interact with the images to that extent (but how cool if we could have made a little animated Steven with his Toad hat on and inserted it!)  So we have Grandpa just hide while Little Toad tricks the Monster. For that, we show the image of the Monster's legs from the book, and while Little Toad mimes throwing berries, each click of the remote sends a red dot on a "motion path," so it kind of looks like the dots really were coming from Terri's hands and landing on the image. The Monster runs away (more motion paths criss-crossing the screen, with the image getting smaller each time) and then there's that satisfying Kasza ending, where Grandpa Toad reveals that the third secret is having a "friend you can count on."

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