Book: But Excuse Me That is My Book by Lauren Child
Audience: Family Storytime (mostly 3-6 year olds)
We don't tend to seek out picture books based on tv cartoons for storytime, but this one is just too much fun. And Charlie and Lola did start out in picture books, it's just that this particular story appeared first in animated form. I'm also not always always crazy about book with strong messages about libraries reading...wait, that doesn't sound right, does it? I just mean books with over-obvious, heavy-handed messages. And this one avoids that nicely because Lola is just such a funny kid.
In the story, Lola wants to check her favorite book (Beetles, Bugs, and Butterflies) out of the library, but when she gets there it's gone. Charlie finally convinces her to try a different book (Cheetahs and Chimpanzees) and it becomes her new favorite. Not much to it, but Lola's personality fills it with all kinds of humor. Sheila and I presented it as a two-person act out. The book's illustrations are quite effective, which usually isn't the case when they come from an animated presentation.
We talked about getting the illustrations into it somehow....maybe scanning some images and using them as background. But in the end we decided that it's really a character driven story and we'd let them carry it.
Charlie does a bit of narration, but it's mostly dialogue between the two. We trimmed a fair amount from the book, but kept the language because it's so key to Lola's persona: "the bugs are quite buggy and the butterflies are really beautiful and the beetles are very silly. The beetle gets stuck! And his legs are very funny! And he can't turn over!" Charlie interrupts to remind her that Dad's waiting, and she finishes with: "All his funny little legs, Charlie!"
So this is an act-out where the presenter really needs to get into the character. Sheila used Lola's words and had great facial expressions and physical gestures. You should have seen her holding her arms out stiffly in front of her as she said: "All his funny little legs!"
Once they get to the library and the book's not there, Charlie recommends some other books for Lola. Of course the books are the kind that seem especially interesting to Charlie: dinosaurs, castles, and the like. So his love of books comes through too as he tries to convince her. We had a short stack of books on a table that Charlie pulled from to show Lola. This was one bit we shortened from the book, just having Lola look at three books and reject them. Meanwhile, before Storytime started, we had given a copy of Beetles Bugs and Butterflies to an adult in the audience. Not that actual book, which I think is made up, but a book with bugs on the cover and "Beetles, Bugs and Butterflies" printed out and taped over the real title. When Sheila points to the adult volunteer, that's her cue to stand up and walk out of the room. Which sets up Lola's despair at realizing that "her" book has been checked out by someone else.
In the end, Lola tries one of Charlie's recommendations and loves it even more. And we did the same thing with Cheetahs and Chimpanzees: found a book with a likely cover illustration and taped a new title over it. As for the messages, they comes out very naturally in the story, as Charlie tries to explain how people share library books and Lola demonstrates how much a single book can mean to a child. I actually like both of those messages a lot....but I like Sheila (as Lola) imitating the funny little beetles even more.