Monday, March 3, 2014

A Wide-Mouthed Bird Named Confetti

Book:  Snack Time for Confetti  by Kali Stileman
Puppets:  2 Birds, Giraffe, Zebra, Elephant, Monkey (substitutions okay)
Props:  Leaves, Grass, Fruit, Banana
Presenters:   One
Audience:  Toddler Time  (1 and 2 year olds)

The Wide Mouthed Frog is one of my all-time favorite stories to tell with puppets, but my version is a little too wild for most kids under three.  So I was pleased to discover Snack Time for Confetti.  It's an original story, with excellent illustrations, but has a similar basic structure to WMF:  Hungry animal asks other animals for food ideas and doesn’t like any of them.  But it’s scaled back a bit, and has a nice Yuck/Yum pattern that’s just about right for two-year olds.  So I told it with puppets for Toddler TIme.  

I tell it with a combination of narration and dialogue.  “Confetti was hungry.  Really, really hungry!  And she met….a Giraffe.”  So I bring Giraffe out of the bag, and then it’s dialogue:   “Giraffe, I’m hungry!”   “Well, Confetti, I like to eat luscious leaves.”  Giraffe brings out some leaves, then I slip back to narration:  “Giraffe said…. YUM! (as Giraffe nibbles on leaves)….”And Confetti said….YUCK!  So Confetti went to find a different snack.  And she met….a Zebra.”  And the same pattern repeats.

It’s a nice pattern, with some simple elements that work very well with toddlers and puppets:   A new animal popping out of the bag;   That animal’s food popping out of the bag;  And a fun and easy participation prompt, where the audience naturally joins in on the Yums and Yucks, especially with a little hesitation by the storyteller just before each Yum and Yuck.  

The book includes a Crocodile twist, where the bird learns that the Croc is hungry and replies with a whisper that she’s “maybe not that hungry.”  The illustrations cue the readers that the Croc is dangerous.  This also echoes WMF a bit, but I feel like it will get lost on the younger toddler time audience, so I don’t include it.  I just stick with the main pattern until the last segment.  So I just do Giraffe/Leaves, Zebra/Grass, Elephant/Apple, and Monkey/Banana (the book uses Nuts for Monkey, but a banana is always easier to manage than nuts in the world of puppets).

Finally Confetti’s mom comes home.  In the book, she brings her child 5 things to eat…I cut that to 3 for my presentation:  a wiggly Worm, a speedy Spider, and a fine Fly.  I was going to use a caterpillar, but realized that my little stuffed caterpillar is the one from The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and we just did that book two weeks before....don't want to replace that image of caterpillar-becomes-butterfly with one of caterpillar-becomes-bird food, at least not yet.   Mom brings each one of those out, one at a time, and puts them on a plate.   And then of course it’s:  “And Confetti said:  YUM!” and she gobbles them up.  The two bird puppets I have for Mom and Confetti work well for this story because their beaks are pretty nimble…it can be hard to pick stuff up with some bird puppets. 

After Confetti eats her creepy-crawlies, I list off the other animals (but I don’t put the puppets back on…too chaotic and not really needed).  “And guess what Giraffe and Zebra and Elephant and Monkey said?   YUCK!”  It's a satisfying ending, with some silliness that two-year olds really get and one-year olds...well they might not get it, but they at least get to see animals eat stuff and say "Yum" and "Yuck" a lot, and with one-year olds, that can be just enough.  

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