The Puppets of Milton-Union Public Library

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been visiting the Milton-Union Public Library for five years in a row now — ever since World of Difference Ltd. got off the ground! Back then, Sharon was the Children’s Librarian, today it’s Wendy! I have built up so many great relationships with people at this library that I am always warmly received and coming to perform here is just a pure delight!

Before the show I usually hang out in the “puppet room,” where I couldn’t be happier. I could spend hours in that room checking out every carefully labeled box, each of which contains some unique puppet or stuffed animal. In case you weren’t aware, puppets are my weakness. (The photo above in front of the sign is actually me and Mr. Bamboo, my newest panda puppet purchased for this summer’s program!)

I always loved stuffed animals growing up. In fact, I had a different stuffed animal to represent each member of my family at one point in my life, so when I had to go out of town and leave the human family members behind, their stuffed version went along with me. My mom was represented by a sweet-looking dog that looked more like a teddy bear, my dad was a walrus, my brother and sister were trolls (fitting, right?), and my two dogs were represented by a scraggly-looking mutt.

Today I like to call puppets “the grown person’s stuffed animal,” and my husband knows that if we enter a shop with a puppet rack, it’s all over. I will want to stay for hours trying them all on, giving them voices, etc. A few years ago I got a giraffe puppet while on a trip with my mother. I think later she was wishing I hadn’t. That giraffe kept popping up when she least expected it. As soon as she got into the passenger seat of the car, what did I do but crouch down, knock at the window and make that giraffe look right at her. My husband got greeted by the same puppet when he was in the shower once. Yes, I love puppets! Which brings me back to the puppet room.

The people at the library are kind enough to indulge my wishes to peek in some of the boxes before the show. They have a puppet stage in their community room so I think it’s safe to say that they are pretty excited about puppets as well, and they enjoy showing me any new acquisitions that they have purchased since my last visit.

Well, on this visit I happened to notice a snake-on-a-stick puppet, made from an old necktie. I was so excited to come across this because I’d been thinking about buying or making a snake puppet for an upcoming story. I saw this idea online and thought it was super-cute, but I wondered how it might turn out. I liked the idea of making my own as a way of showing audience members a creative craft that they might do at home, but I am not that crafty. However, seeing this snake might have bolstered my desire to give it a try (or at least enlist someone else to do it for me!)  If you’d like to have your own snake puppet, here’s some online directions I found for making them. If I do make my own, I’ll be sure to share it on here at a later date!

On another note, the program that day was a lot of fun. We had a great and animated crowd with lots of willing participants, one of which really kept me on my toes! One of the interesting things that I’ve noticed while performing this program is how as I’m telling the story with the greedy evil brother, I will see a lot of children in the audience who tend to get that evil gleam in their eyes and whose faces begin to take on the sort of sneering expressions one would imagine him to have. It’s really neat to see it happening, and I don’t know if anyone else can see it, since I have the best vantage point from which to see the audience members’ faces. The great thing about it is that it shows me their level of engagement with the story. As I use my face and voice to bring the characters to life, they are doing it right along with me from their seats and experiencing the character’s feelings as they go. I wish I had a photo of that to show you, but since I don’t have time to snap pictures while I tell, you’ll have to enjoy the photos below, taken from the opposite vantage point!

A captive audience as I tell some Asian tales!

Rich man “Fu” counts his coins.

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