Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Carrot Seed: 1945 Book + 1950 Record = 2014 Storytime

Book - The Carrot Seed  by Ruth Krauss, Illustrated by Crockett Johnson
Puppets:   None
Props:   Box for garden, Flibber, Big Carrot, Simple costumes stuff for Little Boy, Mother, Father, and Brother
Technology:  Audio of the 1950 recording of the book
Presenters:  Two
Audience:  Family Storytime  (mostly ages 3-6)

Sheila, Brad, and Terri have all done The Carrot Seed since it was developed in a very cool way (by Sheila and Brad) a few years ago.  None of the stories we've done is anything quite like this.  It's always been one of my favorites to watch, but I haven't written about it on this blog partly because it's easier to write when you've done it, not just watched it, but mostly because I really just couldn't figure out to describe it with words and pictures.  So we filmed it this time, and I'm hoping watching the video clip below will make sense along this written description.

It started when Sheila found this old recording of the book on the web from 1950, narrated by Norman Rose (a classic voice, whose roles included "Death" in Woody Allen's Love and Death and the Juan Valdez Columbian Coffee Commercials).  Brad downloaded the recording from the web, then edited it a bit.

Then we act it out, kind of mock-lip-synching to the narration.  In our recent Family Storytime, I was the Little Boy, wearing a beanie and standing on my knees (it's hard to pull of Little Boy when you're 6' 3").

We covered a wooden cart with brown butcher paper for the garden and put our big carrot and a flibber inside (see below for flibber details).  It's pretty funny when I mouth along to the Little Boy's songs.  But then Brad comes out, first as the Mother, with an apron on, and we hear the Mother's high, old-fashioned singing voice coming from him, and it's really funny.  He quickly changes props to become Father, then switches again and hops on a scooter to portray the Brother.  In between each of these, the Little Boy sings that catchy little song.

When the carrot finally comes up, I reach into the box to pull out the flibber, which grows and kind of "blossoms" as you pull it apart.  Flibbers don't always work perfectly, but usually well enough.  I hold the end of the flibber to the top of the stuffed carrot to make an impressively sized carrot.

Then Brad comes out again as Mother, then Father, then Brother, but this time he has to switch very quickly (by layering the props and wearing all at once, then taking them off), which always gets another big laugh.  You can see the whole thing here:  

About Flibbers:  Sheila kindly constructed our flibber, which I learned to make from Robert Lopshire's excellent How to Make Flibbers, Etc.: A Book of Things to Make and Do.  The book is long out of print but the flibber instructions from it are here.

About Big Stuffed Vegetables:   The stuffed carrot is one we got at Ikea...they also have broccoli and strawberry and we seem to use all three pretty regularly. You never know when you'll need a big stuffed vegetable.

About Old Children's Records The Carrot Seed also appears on a very cool website called "Kiddie Records Weekly," which has dozens of recordings from "the Golden Age of Children's Records" which was in the 40's and 50's.  You can stream or download The Pied Piper of Hamelin narrated by Ingrid Bergman, Gene Kelley doing The Little Red Hen, and a Disney recording of "Robin Hood," that I think might be the exact same one that I had as a kid (though we had 33's, not 78's...I'm not that old).  Not that I think we'll use more of these in Storytime or anything, but it's a pretty interesting site, especially if you grew up listening to stories on records as I was lucky enough to get to do (thanks, Mom).

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