Sunday, November 10, 2013

Slightly Spooky Dust Bunnies

Book:  Here Comes the Big Mean Dust Bunny by Jan Thomas
Puppets:   None
Props:   Dust Bunny costumes
Performers:  Five
Technology:    PowerPoint slides
Audience:  Family Story Time

We typically have two people do our Family Storytimes, and many (but not all) can also be done with one, but for this one you really need four or five.  So I know this means many libraries couldn't do this story this way, but we just had so much fun with it I have to tell it anyway.

With our annual "Slightly Spooky Stories" event we always use all five of us children's staff (Shannon, Brad, Sheila, Terri, and myself) and try to find stories where we all have stuff to do.  We had done Jan Thomas' Rhyming Dust Bunnies before as a two person puppet show (details here) and we all knew about this sequel, but never thought to try it until this storytime came up.  We realized we had enough people to have four Rhyming Dust Bunnies (RDBs) plus the Big Mean Dust Bunny (BMDB), but then decided to mix acting out (the RDBs) with PowerPoint scans from the book (the BMDB).  Jan Thomas' illustrations, with her thick black lines and bright colors, come through really well on the screen.  

For costumes, we happened to have a bunch of frilly skirts that are worn quite often in storytimes (though not so much by me and Brad).  Turns out if you wear one around your neck instead of around your waist and then tie a scarfy kind of thing around your head, you look just like a dust bunny.  Well not just like, but close enough.  So the four RDBs entered, sort of spinning around and bumping into each other, then went into the simple words from the book.  We had the words show up on the screen, which is a neat way to reinforce the rhymes.  It also helped us remember what to say.

The the Big Mean Dust Bunny appears as an image filling the screen, while Brad is offstage doing his lines with a microphone.  We did some simple PowerPoint animations to get the action into the story:   

1.  When the BMDB uses "Sit!" as the rhyme, the four RDB's get directly under the image on the screen, then pretend to get squished as the image moves down to the bottom of the screen.

2.  When the BMDB uses "Chase!" his image moves back and forth across the screen a couple of times, while the four RDB's run back and forth across the stage area, trying to stay in front of the image (which is harder to do than you'd think)

3.  When the BMDB gets squished by the Cat (Bob tried to warn him), had a sideways image of the BMDB that was squished, then two RDB's on each side pretend to pull it.  Each click switches to a less-squished version of the image, so it kind of look like the BMDB is getting stretched out to full size as we pull. 

Sometimes when we try to mix screen images and acting out it can be a little complicated, but in this case I thought the two styles mixed very smoothly.  I'm pretty confident that no one in the audience was really scared by this one, but that's why we call it "Slightly Spooky Stories."  

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