Friday, February 8, 2013

A Perfectly Fractured Rapunzel

Book:  Falling for Rapunzel  by Leah Wilcox
Puppets:   None
Props:   Ladder, Underwear, socks, dresses, soap, pig, batter, prince stuff, Rapunzel stuff, maid stuff
Presenters:   Three (could work with Two plus a child volunteer)
Audience: Family Storytime, K-2 Book Adventure

This is one of those stories we just about any time we can.  We've done it for Family Storytimes and most recently included it in our K-2 Book Adventure "Fractured Folktales" program and a school Family Night (grades K-5).  We acted it out with three people:  Rapunzel (Sheila), the Prince (me), and the Maid (Terri, who also narrates).  We set up a short ladder behind a trifold screen to serve as Rapunzel's tower.  And pretty much stick to the words in the book, with only minor changes. The story fosters phonological awareness (clever rhymes), sophisticated vocabulary words (tresses, and best of all: one person throwing stuff at another person....what more do you need?

The premise is pretty simple, as so many of the best ones are:  The Prince wants Rapunzel to let down her hair, but she hears him wrong and throws down stuff that rhymes with what he says. 

The opening verse sets it up:  "Once upon a bad hair day / A prince rode up Rapunzel's way. / From up above he heard her whine, / upset her hair had lost its shine. / He thought her crying was a plea / And sallied forth to set her free. / Alas she was too far away to quite make out what he would say..."
As Prince, I ask Rapunzel to throw down her hair...and she throws down:  Underwear!  (Terri recently found a big pair of muppet boxers at Goodwill...we've already used them twice (see future Froggy Gets Dressed post)).  Then Prince tries to think of other ways to say "hair":   "Curly locks" gets him "dirty socks;"  "Silky tresses":  "dresses."  Getting more frustrated, he asks for "rope" and she beans him with a bar of "soap"  (actually "cantaloupe" in the book, but that's one fake fruit we don't have).  "Ladder" is a fun one:  She dumps "pancake batter."  We try to do this story last, because it can be hard to do more stories when you're covered in flour.  The rhymes and vocabulary are more sophisticated than you'd expect, so the kids anticipating what the next throw will be usually can't guess it easily, which adds to the fun.

The book includes some excellent verses that we didn't include for a couple of reasons.  For one thing, when you act it out the action takes center stage...the rhymes that impact the action (hair/underwear) come through better than the follow up lines that are more commentary.  I hate to drop a couplet like this:  By now the prince was feeling hammered / not to mention less enamored"...but perfect as it is within the book, it gets lost in an act-out.  Also, there's too much going on to hold a script and with rhymes you pretty much have to get the words down exactly.  So reducing the amount to memorize is not a bad thing. 

The ending is just right:  He asks for her "braid" and she throws down her "Maid," who comes tumbling out from behind the "tower" and turns out to be a better match for the Prince: "I fell for you when we first met" (because she "fell" out of the tower, get it?  The kids usually don't, but I always enjoy it anyway).
Thie three-person version works really well, but I also think it could be done with two, having the Prince narrate and using a child from the audience as the Maid.  You wouldn't have quite as smooth an ending, but the premise, the rhymes, and the stuff being thrown from the tower is really the heart of the tale. 

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