Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Ball for Daisy with Screen and Music

Book:  A Ball for Daisy  by Chris Raschka
Puppets:   None
Props:   Dog Stuff to wear;  Pillow (dog bed);  Trash Can;  Red Ball;  Blue Ball;  Popped Red Ball (or balloon)
Presenters:   Two
Technology:   PowerPoint + Projector + Music
Audience:  Family Stortime, K-2nd

Sheila's been wanting to find a way to do Chris Rascka's wordless A Ball for Daisy since the day it came out.  When she and Brad had a "Cats and Dogs" Storytime they started talking about scanning the images and acting it out at the same time, but it didn't seem like quite enough.  Then they started talking about adding music, and that was it.  You could see the wheels turning as Brad started playing around with song clips and trying different combinations.  He finally worked it out, and it was a big hit in Storytime.  A month or so later Sheila and I did it for our Caldecott-themed "K-2 Book Adventure." 

The scanned images appear on the screen, while at the same time Daisy (me) and Brown Dog (Sheila) silently act out.  So Daisy starts in bed with the red ball, while the happy song plays:  "In the Mood" (sound clip from amazon.com).  Daisy pops up, walks around, plays with the ball, etc.  So the kids are seeing me playing with the ball as Daisy, while behind me the screen shows images of Daisy playing.  It sounds kind of confusing, but it actually works really well visually (though you can't see it so well in the photo here).  The red ball stands out so neatly in Raschka's illustrations, and the red ball we use is equally bright, so that kind of anchors the presentation, tying the live action to the screeen, but not too tightly.  We considered using balloons for the balls, because they kind of let you play in slow motion, but they just weren't round enough and it was important for them to match the balls in the books as closely as possible. 

After Daisy plays for a bit, Brown Dog pops out, and she and Daisy play with the ball together, with the music still playing.  Finally, though, the ball rolls behind the backdrop, Brown Dog follows it, and the music abruptly stops.  (Brad set up the PowerPoint so that the song would continue playing until we reached this particular slide).  Then there's a bit of silence and a loud pop, which is Sheila popping a balloon behind the backdrop.  Daisy stands there crestfallen for a moment, then the sad music starts:  Chopin's "Funeral March."  The kids are totally involved at this point...their hearts are breaking for that poor dog (even though it's actually a tall man with a goofy dog hat).  Then Brown Dog walks out with the popped ball in her mouth.  Daisy takes it sadly, drops it in the trash can, and flops sadly back on her pillow.  
Daisy wakes up though, and as she walks slowly along....back comes the happy music!  And out pops Brown Dog from behind the backdrop with a new blue ball!  The two dogs play happily again and all is well.
This was a fun story to act out, but I especially enjoyed watching Brad and Sheila present it earlier.  I knew the screen/act out/music combination would be entertaining to the kids, but until I saw it I didn't realize how well it captured the themes and visual imagery of the book.  It wasn't a direct representation of course....for one thing, it was dogs only, without the humans.  But you get the joy/sorrow/joy of the story, with the wordless storytelling retained, the fantastic artwork prominently featured, plus a little Glenn Miller and Chopin thrown in.   


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