Monday, February 4, 2013

Newbery Break is Over

After trying for half a year to keep up with this blog and chair the 2013 Newbery Committee, I decided to take a break from Beyond the Book Storytime posts until the Medal was chosen.  The Medal and Honor books were announced a week ago, so now it's time to return.  I've done plenty of storytime stuff in the last six months that I'll post about, but I thought maybe in honor of the Newbery year I should try to come up with a few ideas based on the books we selected.  This blog features ways to present stories using puppets, props, acting, and other "beyond the book" methods....I haven't actually tested these in a real storytime situation, but there's got to be a way: 

The One and Only Ivan. 
Let's see....I've got a good gorilla puppet, that's a start.  But he's not all that expressive, and Ivan is one of the most unique characters I've ever met in a book.  Maybe if I just focus on the funny bits of the story.  How about something with "me-balls?"  According to Ivan the gorilla, "a me-ball is made by rolling up dung until it's the size of a small apple, then letting it dry.  I always keep a few on hand."  He sometimes throws them at the humans who "for some reason...never seem to carry any."  A little brown play-doh could do the trick.  Good possibility for audience participation there, and a little scatological humor is almost always a good thing...but no, I just don't think this one will work in storytime after all.  On to the Honor books.

Splendors and Glooms:  On first glance, this might be just the thing.  It's all about puppets, so it should be a natural fit for storytime.  It's just that as a puppeteer, I'm not all that comfortable with being associated with the puppeteer in this book.  Grisini is one the best villains ever ("best" measured here in literary terms not in terms of moral goodness, where he would be the opposite of the best), but he does, after all, turn children into marionnettes and ransom them for large sums of cash, along with other evil stuff.  The orphan Parsefall's also a puppeteer, and a much nicer guy (though far from perfect), but I could never do his accent right.  Best stay away from this one after all.

Bomb:   I like to mix a little non-fiction into our programs when I can, and this is an amazing informational book.  So I would do this one, but unfortunately I can't find my Robert Oppenheimer puppet, and apparently it's been discontinued by Folkmanis.  You just can't do a puppet show of Bomb without a decent Oppenheimer puppet.

Three Times Lucky:  I love to use stories with good dialogue, and this has some of the best.  How can I get some of these lines into a puppet story?:  "I wouldn't say stole...but I did borrow it pretty strong;"  "My heart leaped like the cheerleader I will never be;"  "I never forgive. I like revenge too much."  No....excellent lines for a character in a novel, but I don't see Pink Pig or Sheldon the Sheep Dog pulling these off. 

Well, I tried, but it's just not going to work.  Apparently "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children" is not the same as "adapt this for your next storytime presentation."  And on the bright side, I imagine the Printz Committee members are having an even harder time with this (Good luck doing Code Name Verity or In Darkness in storytime). 

So I'll say goodbye to Newbery for sure and be back soon with a post on a book that didn't win any awards, but has silly rhymes, dress-up opportunities, and underwear jokes....just the right ingredients for a surefire storytime hit. 


  1. Thanks Steven. I'll be chuckling over this for days. I can see you digging into your puppet bag looking for just the right one...!

  2. Welcome back, Steven. It was a big year for you with an outstanding result! But I'd be lying if I didn't say I missed the fresh ideas from this blog. looking forward to more posts!

  3. Welcome back! I loved the Newbery picks this year. Great job!