How to Do "The Three Bears" with Two Hands: Performing with Puppets

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When you perform puppetry in the library, you are not just telling a story but creating it anew. You are sharing the importance of language skills, speaking, and listening. You are making literature real and relevant to children for whom it is often anything but. You are creating an immediacy that not even TV can compete with. Watch children's eyes, hands, and faces change when they see the Troll threaten the Billy Goats. Listen to their roar as you repeat the magic word that will turn a dog into a king.

Other books give a quick and easy tips to help librarians for whom puppetry is only one of seemingly hundreds of things they must do. How To Do "The Three Bears with Two Hands": Performing with Puppets is for those who want to bear down and hone their craft. In seventeen years of performing puppetry, author Walter Minkel has staged two thousand shows in one hundred libraries. He shares his tips on:

  • staging puppet shows in typical library spaces;
  • creating characters with voices and puppet manipulation;
  • writing scripts and adapting stories from children's literature;
  • performing solo and working with other staff and volunteers; and
  • using puppets as ambassadors to the community.

Appendixes feature four sample scripts and specific stage-building plans.

    1 Why Puppetry in the Library?

    • Is Puppetry for You?
    • What Is Puppetry?
    • Communication through Puppets
    • Four Kinds of Puppets
    • Puppetry As Art

    2 Developing Technique

    • The Performer’s Attitude
    • Creating Your Characters
    • Breath Control and Voice
    • Manipulation—A Puppet’s Body Language
    • Entrances and Exits

    3 Script Writing and Adaptation

    • Elements of a Good Script
    • Original or Adaptation?
    • Adaptation and Copyright
    • Sensitivity Issues and Classic Tales

    4 The One-Person Puppet Program

    • The Puppet Mascot
    • Storytelling with Puppets and Props
    • Three Bears with Two Hands
    • Staging Your Solo Show
    • Working with Another Puppeteer

    5 Puppets, Stages, Scenery, and Props

    • Puppets
    • Stages and "Non-Stages"
    • Simple Scenery and Props

    6 Puppetry As Part of Your Job

    • Know Your Audience
    • Performing in a Library
    • Sample Program Activities
    • Performing Outside the Library

    Appendix A Five Puppet Show Scripts

    • The Three Little Pigs
    • The Three Billy Goats Gruff
    • Who’s the Squonk?
    • Coyote and the Galloping Rock
    • The Magic Knapsack

    Appendix B Stage-Building Plans

    • Closed Proscenium Stretched-Cloth Stage
    • Open Proscenium PVC Pipe Stage

    Appendix C Sources and Resources

Walter Minkel

Walter Minkel is a youth librarian with more than twenty years' experience, a puppeteer, and a storyteller, but the Web lured him away. He now is school corps technology trainer for Multnomah County (Ore.) Library. He manages the KidsPage for Multnomah County Library and created the Newbery and Caldecott Medal home pages and the Coretta Scott King Awards page for the American Library Association. He also is comanager, with Roxanne Hsu Feldman, of the ALSC Web site. He has written several articles on young people and the Web for School Library Journal.

"The appendix alone is worth the price of this book, which will make an excellent resource for the school's professional library. Recommended."
—Book Report/Library Talk

"Essential for those library professionals wishing to do more with creative storytelling and ready to commit in greater depth to the art of puppetry, this book fills a unique niche in the storyteller's collection."
—Catholic Library World

"For those needing help in the plotting, staging, manipulation of hand puppets, scenery, etc., this book comes as a welcome aid."
—School Library Journal

"Minkel presents puppetry as a highly interactive art that brings stories alive to children, making them 'real' in ways impossible with videos and film."
—Church & Synagogue Libraries