Book: Piggle by Crosby Bonsall
Puppets: Pig, Bear; Girl, Rabbit, Sheep, Boy optional
Presenters: Two, though it works with one
Audience: Family Storytime
Video: How to Tell Piggle with Puppets
Crosby Bonsall's Piggle has always been one of my favorite early readers. It's clever and funny and has excellent characters. I've told it as a one person puppet story over the years, but got a chance to do it with a partner for a recent "Silly Stories" themed Storytime with Terri. Terri put on a baseball cap and played Homer, while I was behind a screen (not a full puppet stage) with puppets. In the book, Homer tries to find someone to play with him with no success, until he meets Bear and they play a game called "Piggle." There's bit in the middle with some arguing and fighting that we don't include. And although our original version included Homer's interactions with a girl (Lolly), a Rabbit, and a Sheep, we ended up boiling it down to the most key characters. Homer, Pig, and Bear.
First Pig drives Homer crazy with smart aleck answers: P: "What game shall we play?" H: "I don't care." P: "I don't know how to play that game." After a bit of similar back and forth Pig finally claims to know a game called Piggle, but won't tell Homer how to play it (because Pig really doesn't know). Pig exits and Homer utters his trademark expression of frustration: "Beans!" Saying "Beans!" several times is the highlight of the story for me (I'm not sure why), so I should get some big-time teamwork points for letting Terri be Homer.
Then Bear appears and makes up a Piggle game, which is just creating rhymes: B: "Piggle, like Miggle!" H: "Miggle, Bear?" B: "Miggle, like....Diggle!" And so on. Again, the back and forth between characters is fun, and so are the rhymes (with the added phonological awareness benefit of playing with sounds). They continue rhyming ("Gillikin, Millikan, Zillikan!" "Wumpity, Lumpity, Bumpity") until Bear has to go. Here's where we skip the middle part of the book, and also skip the parts where Lolly, Rabbit, and others learn how to play Piggle from Homer (although I've included the playing Piggle parts in the past). Instead, we bring Pig right back, and he sheepishly gets Homer to show him how Piggle goes. And once Pig knows, he gives it a try and gets it all wrong: "Cute, sweet, clean, clever, Pig!" Homer lets him know that's not right (as do the kids in the audience) and Pig storms off with a "Beans!" of his own (so I do get to say it once).
The ending is quite nice, as Bear returns and Homer invites him to play again, which is an idea that Bear thinks is: "Splunderful, Junderful....Wonderful!" Although we end up cutting quite a bit from the book, it would have been a bit too lengthy and a bit too complex for our Family Storytime audience. With the shortened version we still get the key elements: Fun wordplay; personable characters who interact a lot; and a progression of events that's easy to follow. The one-person version works fine too, which just requires a Boy puppet for Homer on one hand, and Pig and Bear alternately appearing on the other. When the story's over I usually point out to the audience that "you can play Piggle yourself anytime....It's Simple! Rimple! Jimple!"