Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Little Red Hen, Three Ways

Story #1:    The Little Red Hen with felt
Story #2:    The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza with puppets (from the book by Philomen Sturges, illustrated by Amy Walrod)
Story #3:    The Little Red Pirate (a Brad Clark original)
Puppets:  Hen, Cat, Dog, Pig (#2)
Props:  Laminated Shapes and Felt Board (Version #1);  Flower, Rolling Pin, Penguin, Pizza (#2);  Pirate clothes, Parrot, Treasure Chest, Squirt Bottles (#3)
Technology:  none
Audience:  Family Story Time (mostly 3-7 year olds)

Once a year we do a "One Story Three Ways" theme in Family Storytime.  In previous years we've featured "The Three Pigs," "The Three Bears," and "The Three Billy Goats Gruff," but this year we broke our "Three" streak and tried "The Little Red Hen." 

We started with a traditional version, which Terri told using our big felt board and laminated, velcroed figures.  Details of this version are on a previous post.   We always like to start this three-version program with a pretty straightforward one.  This way the kids have the basics down and will recognize the parallels and get the jokes (well, some of them anyway) when we do the broader variations.  The child participation parts of this version do even more to help the kids know the story.  

For version two, we did a broad adaption of The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philomen Sturgis.  We made it "The Little Red Rooster..." instead, mostly because my hen puppets is pretty static, while my Rooster is very nimble and animated.  Rooster was above the curtain, asking his three friends for help.  Dog and Cat each say the expected "Not I," but Pig replies with an "I Will!" and proceeds to bring Rooster the wrong thing:   a Flower instead of some Flour; a Squeaky Hammer instead of a Rolling Pin;  and a Penguin instead of a Pepperoni.  That penguin didn't really make much sense, but I just really liked the idea of something completely nonsensical, plus having little Rooster toss a big Penguin puppet behind the stage is a pretty fun visual.  At the end, Rooster wants to just look at
his pizza, then can't figure out what else to do with it.  When his friends suggest that he should eat it, he rewards that great idea by sharing it with them.  All three of us were behind the stage for this one; it could probably be done with two, but three made prop handling and movement nice and smooth.

For the last version, Terri and I got to just relax while Brad told his original story of The Little Red Pirate.  Brad does performances at several dozen other libraries all over the state, and this was one of his featured stories last summer.  He brings up two volunteers to be Polly the Parrot, and the First Mate, while the rest of the audience is The Crew.  So everyone gets their chance to do "Not I!" when Brad (as the Little Red Pirate) asks for help in finding the treasure.  Steps include Lifting the Anchor, Steering the Boat, Rowing the Dinghy, and Digging for Treasure.

Brad always does a great job of working with the child volunteers.  In one session, the First Mate volunteer did not want to play.  We could tell because he said:  "I'm not doing this."  But he stayed up there and Brad turned his defiance into a character trait, making it lots of fun without making fun of the boy at all.  There's also an excellent ending:  When we finally see the Treasure Chest and The L. R. Pirate points out that no one helped him, he decides they should all....Walk the Plank!, at which point Brad pulls two squirt bottles out of the chest and squirts everybody.  

We had lots of copies of different versions of The Little Red Hen available for checkout, but we had to tell the audience that there was no book version of The Three Little Pirates...yet.  Brad is actually working on finding a publisher for this and for a couple of other stories, and I'm sure it's just a matter of time before he'll be a published picture book author.  Wouldn't you use this book in storytime?

Here's a short video clip from Brad's story:  It starts from the point where The Little Red Pirate is Reading the Map, then has Digging the Treasure, and the excellent squirt bottle ending.....

This "One Story Three Ways" theme is always a fun one to put together, but it also has a purpose.  We always mention that by telling a story and retelling it in different ways we're playing with our narrative skills, just like kids do when they play and act out based on books.


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