One-Person Puppetry Streamlined and Simplified: With 38 Folk-Tale Scripts

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  • Table of Contents
  • About the Author

"Once upon a time, in a land gone mad with the noise from cell phones and Walkmans, lived a middle-aged librarian who refused to grow up."—Yvonne Amar Frey

Most guides to puppetry assume multiple puppeteers, large stage, elaborate props, custom-designed puppets and more. With library staffing and budgets stretched thin, and other curricular commitments for teachers, few have the time or resources to develop full-blown puppet performances.

Expert author Frey provides a much-needed puppet alternative to enrich story-times, book talks, and other library events for children of all ages. Over the course of 20 years, she has perfected nontraditional shortcuts that make solo amateur puppetry painless, cost-effective—and fun!

In Part One, Frey shares the techniques to:

  • Create a stage that one person can carry and fit in a car
  • Make puppets out of easily available materials (stuffed animals, doll heads, papier mâché)
  • Learn stage secrets for warming up
  • Plan for a streamlined tale—performed by just a couple of characters, supplemented with a narrator

Part Two features scripts for 38 simplified tales, including humorous "fractured" fairy tales, folktales from around the globe (Japan, Tibet, Russia, Arabia) and adaptations of Aesop's Fables. Also plan for entertaining patter between these short plays—songs, parodies, jokes, riddles, and a puppet that can serve as the introducer.

Children's librarians, teachers, pre-school programs, even parents and home-schoolers can entertain their audiences using this simple proven system.

1 Why Perform Puppet Shows?
2 Creating the Puppets and Stage
3 Showtime: Preparing and Delivering the Performance


Scripts Written from Traditional Literature

Aladdin's Magic Lamp (a retelling of the tale of Aladdin)

A Bit of Magic (a retelling of "The Magic Pot")

The Fisherman's Three Wishes (a retelling of "The Fisherman and His Wife")

The Foolish Merchant and the Greedy Camel (a retelling of an Arabic tale)

Fox's Sticky Santa Cake (a retelling of "Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby")

Fox's Sweet Tooth (a retelling of "The Gingerbread Boy")

The Gift of the Two Brothers (a retelling of a Jewish tale)

Goldi Makes a Friend (a retelling of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears")

The Guardian Stone Lion (a retelling of a Tibetan tale)

Hansel and the Witch (a retelling of "Hansel and Gretel")

How Rabbit Lost His Long Tail (a pourquoi tale)

Jenny and the Beansprouts (a retelling of "Jack and the Beanstalk")

King Birdsnest (a retelling of "King Thrushbeard")

King Midaswell and His Gold (a retelling of the King Midas legend)

The Magic Glass (a retelling of a Japanese tale)

Old Babouscka (a retelling of the Russian legend)

The Princess and Her Golden Ball (a retelling of "The Princess and the Frog")

The Princess and the Pea Test (a retelling of "The Princess and the Pea")

A Promise to a Spider (a retelling of "Rumpelstiltskin")

Rooster Outfoxes Fox (a retelling of a folktale)

The Shoemaker and the Elf (a retelling of "The Shoemaker and the Elves")

Simplyella (a retelling of "Cinderella")

The Smallest Loaf of Bread (a retelling of a German tale)

Soup Made from a Nail (a retelling of "Nail Soup")

The Stonecutter's Wish (a retelling of a Japanese tale)

The Sun's Special Gift to Man (a retelling of a Native American tale)

The Troll's Toll Bridge (a retelling of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff")

Why Bear Has a Short Tail (a retelling of a pourquoi tale)

The Wolf and Granny's Lost Glasses (a retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood")

Wolfi and the Three Squealers (a retelling of "The Three Little Pigs")

The Woman Who Refused to Share (a retelling of a pourquoi tale)

Zucchini Bread (a retelling of "The Little Red Hen")

Adaptations of Aesop's Fables

Androcles and the Lion

The Boy Who Cried "Wolf"

The Country Mouse and the City Mouse

The Dog and the Wolf

The Fox and the Cat

The Hare and the Tortoise


A Songs and Parodies to Use

B Using a Large Puppet to Introduce Puppet Plays

C Using Puppets to Tell Jokes and Riddles

D Sources of Poetry to Perform with Puppets

E Some Good Books and Websites on Puppetry

Yvonne Amar Frey

Yvonne Amar Frey is supervisor of librarians for District 150, Peoria, Illinois, Public Schools and serves on the board for the Alliance Library System, representing school libraries. She holds an M.A. in English Literature from Johns Hopkins University and an M.A.L.S. from Rosary College (now Dominican University). She taught writing and drama at high school and college levels prior to receiving her library degree. Since then, she has served in public and school libraries, including a post as head of youth services at the Peoria Public Library's main branch where she learned the essence of puppetry performing.