Monday, 28 February 2011

Polly Dunbar is my hero (well definitely one of them)

I first came across Penguin kind of by accident. I bought a pack of picture books with DVDs from the book people to use in my nursery. I knew a couple of the stories but hadn't read Penguin before. As soon as I did I loved it and so did the children (boys as well as girls).

The story is about a little boy called Ben who gets a present of a penguin. But the penguin won't talk and Ben tries everything to make him but to no avail! Finally through an exciting plot twist penguin opens up completely! Polly Dunbar does lovely illustrations but my favourite is the penguin's special speech bubble, this is a double page illustration using childlike drawings to retell the whole story.

After reading the story I used to use an empty version of the speech bubble for the children to retell what they could remember through their own pictures.(This worked really well and I used the idea with lots of stories putting the main character at the bottom of the speech bubble.)

Gosh I do go on... anyway we got the book for the little man and he loved it too! Joining in with lots of the fun bits, blowing raspberries, doing dizzy dances etc.
So I was very excited to see it on as a play as part of the Imagine children's festival at the Southbank.

We took the little one on Sunday. This is always a bit scary as you never know how well a 16 month old is going to cope, but he loved it. Well once he got over his fear of the blue narrator puppet, who he kept saying a tearful "bye bye bye" to while waving hopefully.
It is a puppet show by Long nose puppets, which was cofounded by Polly Dunbar and Katherine Morton. The puppets were brilliant and so like the illustrations and the extra bits fitted in really well with the feeling of the book but adding an extra magical sparkle (which is the bonus of having the author on board I guess). I loved the 'hand made' feel of everything, using an overhead projector for the background was really charming. The music was fab too, nowhere near the painful music some children's performances seem to feel is necessary, but then again it was written by Tom Gray of Gomez. Even my slightly less easily won over husband was thoroughly enchanted by it. And I think the fact that our toddler sat on my lap engrossed for the whole 45 minutes is the strongest praise going!

Ps I was thinking of a few things that might be nice to do after seeing the show- most would probably be better for older children but it may have been nice to have tried the speech bubble idea for the children to draw their memories from the show? I am really not a big fan of making children write about this kind of thing as it can just turn a lovely experience into a chore, but it is nice to give them the opportunity to record something if they are that way inclined.
I also thought doing their own little show of the story could be cute, especially if you bought the music. Lots of craft opportunities in making the props, the aliens could be lots of fun, as well as the raspberry blowing raspberries.
Or you could just give them a little penguin wrapped up in a box, a play person and a lion painted blue and see what happens! I am may try this but as I seem to be going round in circles today maybe I will fail, good intentions and all that!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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