Fun In Your Fridge: Adventures with “Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast”

One of the awesome new additions to the picture book world has got to be “Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast” by Josh Funk. As I read the book, I kept thinking, “Man! I wish I had thought of this!” I mean, who doesn’t love pancakes and french toast?


In this deliciously good tale, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are leftovers who live deep in the fridge. They’re good buddies until their neighbor, Miss Brie, informs them that only one drop of syrup remains. What follows is an epic race through the fridge with both willing to do anything to beat the other and win that last drop of sticky sweet goodness. The tale ends with a satisfying and surprising twist that’s too good to give away — so you’ll have to race out and scoop up a copy. It also has a great takeaway message for all ages. My 18 month old son is also quite fond of the end pages which feature a fold-out fridge full of tasty goodness. Are you feeling hungry just reading about it?


This book is perfect for a guided pantomime that could be used by teachers, librarians, even parents.  If you’d like to give it a try in your classroom, library story time, or at home, I’ve got some resources below that might be helpful to you. The first is an Instructions Script. This script could be used prior to any creative dramatic pantomime and lays the groundwork for how such a pantomime works. Because I do not want to give away every scene in the book, I’ve only created a few sections for the Adventure Script — but I hope that this will be enough to give you an idea of how to do it on your own. The most important things to consider as you add to this script and/or make your own is to:

1) Involve all of the senses.

2) Give clear directions that will be easy for participants to follow.


Lastly I have included a Closing Section. It’s important to wrap up with reflection and allow participants to share what they experienced. This part is also just plain fun! You will love hearing the children’s answers and will be amazed at how fully they are able to see and experience the imaginary world that you have helped them create.

I hope this will inspire you to lead children on a fantastic fridgerific adventure! If you do, please let me know how it goes!  And now without further ado, the scripts. . .




“Today we are going to go on an adventure using our imaginations. I need everyone to find their own space in the room where you are not touching anyone else. Once you have found your spot, please sit down. This spot will be yours throughout our adventure. I may ask you to run or jump or move in different ways, but you will always do so in this spot.  This is your adventure. You are not to interact with anybody else around you. Focus on acting out and experiencing your own adventure and try not to be distracted by those around you. As you go on your adventure, there is to be no talking. If you talk or make sounds, you may disturb someone else’s adventure. That’s why it’s very important to be quiet. Are there any questions before we begin? . . . Good. Then please close your eyes and listen carefully to my instructions.”



“Imagine that you are inside your refrigerator. It’s very dark because the door is closed. It’s also very cold. Brrr!!! All of a sudden the door opens and light floods in. Open your eyes. Ooh! It’s very bright. You blink your eyes a couple of times trying to get adjusted to the bright light. You are now able to see everything around you. There’s a big juicy roast behind you. In front of you is a small plate of green peas. You pick one up. You toss it back and forth in your hands. It feels squishy. You throw it up high in the air and try to catch it but you miss. SPLAT! It explodes right in front of you, covering you in green pea mush. Wipe yourself off.

Now that you are clean, you see some spongy tofu not far away. You climb on top of it. It’s kind of wiggly and jiggly. Once you are on top, you notice that it’s fun to bounce on — like a trampoline. Jump and see how high you can go! You are jumping and jumping until — PWOOSH! One of your feet sinks into the tofu. Pull it out. That’s enough fun with tofu. You roll yourself off of the tofu and back onto the refrigerator shelf.

You look up and see that you are in a Broccoli Forest. See if you can climb to the top of one of the broccoli trees. It’s hard to get to the top because the branches are so high up. You have to hold on tight and shimmy until you get close to some branches. Holding on tight to the trunk, you swing one of your legs up. Then the other. Using your legs, you propel yourself up. From the top of the broccoli tree you see your favorite food, not far away. Yum! You shimmy back down the broccoli tree and head toward your favorite food, but on your way you pass Orange Juice fountain. You’re kind of thirsty so you stop and slurp up as much as you can. It’s so sweet and good you decide to climb in. Ah! It feels so refreshing. Splash around in Orange Juice fountain.

You climb out of the fountain when you notice a strange smell. There’s the culprit — a platter of week-old Brussels sprouts! They are blasting you will terrible stinky fumes! Cover your nose and mouth to block the stench! You are gasping for air. You see a celery ladder and climb up it as fast as you can. The air is fresh up here and you take in some deep, fresh breaths to get rid of the Brussels sprouts fumes.


After racing around the entire fridge and making it from the top to the bottom, you are exhausted. You lie down on the floor, close your eyes and fall asleep.”



“Our adventure has come to an end.  You may sit up and open your eyes. Now I would like to hear about your adventure.”

  • What was your favorite part of the adventure? Why?
  • What was the favorite food that you saw? When you got to it, what did you do with it? (It’s always nice to build in something that isn’t already determined but that allows each student to make a creative choice.)


Why I Tell: Musings on the Storytelling Life

Every once in awhile you have experiences that remind you of why you do what you do. A couple of those happened for me this past month.

Why the Words We Say Matter

The first occurred at a local restaurant where I had gotten together with a group of Spanish-speaking friends to celebrate a birthday. I listened as one friend shared how her 13 year old son had been called a “freak” for being Mexican – and this by his own friends, the boys sitting at his lunch table. Sadly, this seemed to have been spurred on by recent political events and debates that have opened the floodgates for unkind comments about immigrants — even those who are US citizens and feel more connected to this country than the one of their cultural heritage.

Another friend from South America described how her 5th grade daughter didn’t want to go to school anymore because of the hurtful things people said to her about her culture and race (her father is African-American). Despite living her whole life in the United States, she’d felt more comfortable at the school she attended that summer while her mother had been visiting friends in her homeland. She’d begged her mom to be allowed to stay because she felt like she fit in there.

My heart broke for these children. As the mom of a son of Colombian heritage, I can only imagine what my response will be if he is subjected to such hurtful treatment because of his ethnic background, the language he speaks, or any other factor for that matter! Hearing these stories, I wanted to do something. I wanted to fight back! But then I realized that I already am.

Every time I tell a story that allows children to see the beauty and wisdom in another culture, in people different from themselves, I am doing just that. This was a reminder that I need to keep doing it – because we still have a long way to go in recognizing the beauty in our differences.

Why Big Crowds Aren’t Everything To Me

The second experience came when I made a trip to the Columbus area to present my Hispanic Heritage program. I’d like to tell you that I had hundreds of people crowded into the room, eager to hear me tell. In reality, the librarian and I were starting to worry that my trip might be for naught when we were minutes from showtime and the room was empty.

Finally, a young boy walked in with his grandfather. “I’m Latino,” he proudly announced. He then shared that his father lived in Central America, and he didn’t get to see him often.

When I began my program, I had only four audience members – this young man, his grandfather, the librarian and a library volunteer. (Later two more adults – a teacher and her friend — would arrive to make the total six.) Because it was such a small crowd, the boy had the opportunity to take on many roles in the program and also to freely interject his thoughts and ideas. At one point he told me that he had a story to tell. I asked him kindly to “put the story in his pocket” and told him that when I had finished he could share. By the end, he said the story was “burning a hole in his pocket!” Clearly it was time to bring it out.

I invited him up, and he became the storyteller and the main character in his story with help from some props from my story bag. I acted out my role as the donkey (using a llama puppet!), taking direction entirely from him. The tiny crowd hung on his every word and were nearly in tears from laughing so hard when we finished our collaborative impromptu tale!

For the library’s sake, I wish there had been more people at this event. But part of me can’t help but believe that perhaps this boy needed this moment. In fact, later the librarian would tell me that he’d never seen this young man at the library before and that the school he’d mentioned attending was not nearby. It appeared that he and his grandfather had come specifically for this program. Had there been a larger crowd, the opportunity to improvise a story together would never have been possible.

So whether I tell for 1 or 100 I remind myself, “Someone might need this story.” And it’s my honor and privilege to share it with them. Thanks to all of you who give me the opportunity to do so.

Is the Bouncy House Calling You?

There’s nothing quite like being a kid. The newness of everything. The excitement. The pure joy.

When you’re a kid, there are no responsibilities. No “to-do” lists. No feelings of guilt for not getting things done or being less than productive. As a child you are free to spend all of your time exploring your passions. You do everything for the pure love of it —  and it’s glorious.

As we grow and become adults, this changes. We have to take on responsibilities appropriate to our age and stage in life, and this is good and right; but I don’t think it means that we have to entirely lose the wonder of being a child.

Climbing the bouncy slide ladder!

A few weeks ago my parents invited me, my husband and our son to an event at their country club. Bouncy houses were set up on the lawn. Buckets and shovels filled the sand traps of the golf course. An ice cream truck was parked outside, serving soft-serve cones and ice cream bars. Balloon artists were twisting balloons into the shapes of aliens with astronaut helmets and silly-looking hats that mad you two feet taller. It was a child’s paradise.

My son, Rafael, climbed into one of the bouncy houses set aside for the youngest kids. At 17 months old, I never would have thought him big enough to play in a bouncy house. He’s my first child so maybe I’m a bit over-protective! But grandpa had let him in and after sitting and watching the other kids the first time around,  he was more than ready to jump the second time around. The woman manning the bouncy house door told me that it was okay if I went inside with him. But after watching him crawl in fearlessly, it was obvious he didn’t need me.

Shucks, I thought. I really wanted to get in too! But as a grown adult I had no excuse to go on my own. In fact, I needed my son to need me in order for it to be socially acceptable for me to get into the bouncy house. Am I the only one — or are are some of you reading this secretly wishing that you could jump in too?

Thankfully (for me!) when it came to the bouncy slide, Rafael could not go alone. He needed me to help him climb to the top. He needed to sit on my lap to have the confidence to go down. And he definitely needed me to shout “WHEEEEEE!!!” at the top of my lungs as we flew down. We went not once, but multiple times. I noticed that I was the only adult going down, but that didn’t stop me!

I think that’s one of the things that I love most about being a mom — the way it allows me to set aside my “too grown-up, too-old-for-this, too refined, too-big” feelings and just embrace the world of play.

Maybe you can’t climb into every bouncy house you see, but I hope that every day you can find little ways to connect to your childlike self. What activities and experiences do that for you? Is there anything you loved as a child but feel like you’re “too big” for now? Maybe your in lies in grabbing your child or grandchild by the hand and jumping in. I’ll see you there!


Summer Reading Program Schedule

I can hardly believe that summer is here! And what does that mean? Summer Reading Program of course!

While I get excited about each new program that I offer, this summer’s program, Tiny Tails: Stories of Small-Sized Superheroes, has me really excited. Why, you ask? Because it’s all about inspiring audience members of all ages to find the SUPERHERO within themselves. And with all the negativity in the world, don’t you think we could use some more superheroes?

Below is my summer performance schedule. All performances, except those appearing in italics, are open to the public. Some libraries do require participants to reserve a spot though, so it’s always a good idea to check-in at your performance location of choice.

So tell your neighbors! Invite your family and friends! Spread the word by sharing this post! And support your local library and the wonderful art of storytelling by coming to a performance. You never know — you might just end up starring in the show!


2015 Summer Schedule


June 6: MetroHealth Hospital (Cleveland, OH)


June 9: 11am at Brunswick Branch Library (Medina County District Library)

2pm at Main Library (Akron-Summit County Library)


June 15: 2pm at Westland Area Library (Columbus, OH)


June 16: 1pm at Goodyear Library (Akron-Summit County Library)


June 17: 1pm at Odom Library (Akron-Summit County Library)


June 18: Confucius Summer Camp (University of Akron)


June 19: Summer Explorers Program at Rodman Library (Alliance)


June 23: 2pm at Nordonia Hills Library (Akron-Summit County Library)


June 24: 10am at Madge Youtz Branch Library (Stark County District Library)

2pm at Lake Branch Library (Stark County District Library)


June 25: 2pm at Main Library (Stark County District Library)

6pm at Jackson Branch Library (Stark County District Library)


June 26: 1:45pm at Skyline Terrace – Bookmobile (Stark County District Library)


June 30: 1:30pm at Solon Branch Library (Cuyahoga County Public Library)

2pm at Rocky River Public Library



July 1: 11am at Girard Free Library



July 20: 11:30am at Crestview Branch Library

2:30pm at Plymouth Branch Library

6pm at Ontario Branch Library


July 21: 10:30am at Main Library

2:30pm at Lucas Branch Library

6:30pm at Lexington Branch Library


July 22: 10:30am at Lexington Branch Library

2pm at Butler Branch Library

6:30pm at Main Library


July 23: 10:30am at Main Library

2:30pm at Bellville Branch Library

6:30pm at Madison Branch Library


July 29: 1pm at Main Library (Warren-Trumbull County Public Library)


July 30: 1pm at Doylestown Branch Library (Wayne County Public Library)



August 5-7: Total Living Center Kids Club (Canton, OH)


August 10: 6:30pm at Avon Branch Library (Lorain Public Library)


August 11: 6pm at Columbiana Public Library



September 26: Medina Story Fest at the Medina County District Library



Word Play and Rhyme Work Together in “Mama Built a Little Nest”

Title:  Mama Built a Little Nest

Author:  Jennifer Ward

Illustrator:  Steve Jenkins

Publisher:  Beach Lane Books

Year:  2014

Word Count:  300 (estimate)




It’s with mixed feelings that I arrive at the last day of the 14:14 Blogging Challenge. It’s certainly been a challenge for me since about the same time I started it, my son became much more mobile with his crawling — making it that much more difficult for me to find time to sit and write instead of chasing him around and trying to keep him out of the dog food bowl! Despite these obstacle, I’ve so enjoyed studying picture books and being introduced to other wonderful books that I’d never even have heard of if it weren’t for the other committed bloggers who also undertook the challenge. I only wish I’d had more time to comment on their blog posts!

Knowing that this was my last post for the challenge made it very difficult to choose a book. There were so many great options, but I decided to go with Mama Built a Little Nest because it’s a non-fiction rhyming book — something I haven’t seen too often. I chose it for rhyme, but the fantastic word play is really what elevates the rhyme.

In children’s publishing circles, you often hear that agents and editors aren’t interested in simple end-rhymes. However, I think that’s not really the case. I see a lot of simple end-rhymes in newly published books. However, after looking at this book as well as God Bless You and Good Night (which I reviewed earlier in the challenge), I’m wondering if agents/editors are willing to overlook simple end-rhyme when it’s skillfully combined with clever word play.

Mama Built a Little Nest is about different kinds of birds and the variety of nests that they build. It opens with the tree-hole nests built by woodpeckers.

Mama built a little nest

inside a sturdy trunk.

She used her beak to tap-tap-tap

the perfect place to bunk.

Notice the onomatopoeia with the “tap-tap-tap” and the alliteration of “perfect place.” These take a simple rhyming couplet and add interest to it.

The spread about wrens reads like this:

Daddy built a little nest.

And then he built another.

And another. And another —

hoping to impress my mother.

First, I love that it’s Daddy building the nests. The fact that he builds these nests in a cactus is all the more impressive. Now to look at the rhyme. Not only do the couplets rhyme, but there is some nice repetition, assonance and near rhyme. Notice how “nest” and “impress” sound quite nice together.

The flamingo’s nest is described like this:

Mama built a little next

entirely out of mud.

No feathery down, no soft green plants,

just fuddy, muddy crud.

I love that last line with its internal rhyme and assonance! I mean, how fun is it to say “fuddy, muddy crud?”

Throughout the book, the rhyming couplets are enhanced by the use of onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance, and consonance. As you read, it’s fun to count all the examples of word play and see how Jennifer Ward weaves them together with her rhyme. It seems so effortless, but I’m sure it required a lot of attention.

I love writing in rhyme, and this book is a great example of how word play can really take your rhyme to the next level. It also inspires me to think of what other non-fiction topics might be well-served by a rhyming text.

What other non-fiction rhyming books can you think of?