Posts Tagged ‘puppets’

Trilobites and Genesis: A 10-Year-Old’s Questions

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
Trilobites & Trilobite Puppets

Come to Maine Festival of the Book (http://mainereads Saturday, April 2 at the Abromson Center, University of Southern Maine.  I’ll be discussing growing up in Norwood, Ohio, and how it informed my novel, “the acclaimed (and controversial)”  Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth.   Learn about trilobites, the Cincinnati Arch, and how to make trilobite puppets out of paper bags.   Recommended for ages 8-12, and those who teach them.

On “Read the Spirit”

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Just wanted my readers to see this wonderful review of “Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth” on (http://www NULL.readthespirit NULL.html):

“TODAY, we’ve got a great book for the entire family, especially if your family is related to evangelical Christianity. I can’t imagine a more engaging and compassionate slice of American life than the 129-page “Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth”—a novella for young readers by Sandra Dutton. Anytime we recommend books for “young readers,” we’ve selected them deliberately because we know adults will enjoy them as well. (If you don’t have a child at home right now, get this book and give it to a family that does—after . . . ”  [Click here to read the rest of the review: (http://www NULL.readthespirit NULL.html)]

Noah’s Ark Puppet Show

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Mrs. Noah and Noah

 Noah’s Ark Puppet Show

One doesn’t hear much about Noah’s wife in Genesis, but writers of the medieval miracle plays dug deep into the story and came up with a feisty Mrs. Noah who speaks her mind.  In “Noah and His Sons,” by the Wakefield master, Mrs. Noah sits and spins, refusing to board the boat, saying there won’t be enough food and that she’ll miss her friends.  In “Noah’s Flood” of the Chester Pageant, she refuses to board, saying to Noah:

Yea, sir, set up your sail,

And row forth with evil hail,

For, without any fail,

I will not out of this town.

Finally, when she does board, she boxes Noah on the ear.  (In both plays they’re constantly hitting each other.) Of course this is all a bit of a comedy.  The miracle plays were performed not only to dramatize the stories of the Bible but to entertain.

In Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth, Mary Mae’s “Mrs. Noah” is feisty.  She’s concerned that dangerous animals are running loose, that they won’t be able keep the boat clean.  “Now we got some mighty big animals,” she says, “and they’s using their cage for a litter box.” 

Since I have both puppets and theatre (I describe making those in earlier blogs), I decided to try and perform the play, taking both Mary Mae and Chester’s parts (Noah and Mrs. Noah).  The puppets are rather fragile, being made of florists’ foam, but I think if kids were doing this with wooden puppets, some butting of heads would be in order. 

If you hit the link, you can see the video. 

Noah’s ArK Puppet Show

Mary Mae’s Puppet Stage

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010


Sandra Dutton with Mary Mae's Mrs. Noah

I made the puppets that appear in Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth and had such fun (see the April 14 entry) that I decided to make the puppet theatre.  I wanted it to be portable (it’s now against a wall in the dining room) and to be able to fit in the back of my Corolla with the seats down, so I was limited to three feet wide by six feet tall.  I also wanted it to be lightweight.  So after looking at many puppet theatres, I decided to make a three-sided one of wood and fabric, three “canvases” hinged together.   Below are diagrams and a list of supplies, if you would like to make one yourself.

 Here’s what I used:

 11 six-foot 1x2s

fabric for the outside, 7-8 yards

fabric to line (optional, but I wanted it to be strong and opaque), another 7-8 yards

four hinges (with removable pins) so that the theatre can easily be disassembled

12 flat corner braces

8 flat T braces

a staple gun

1 yard 60” fabric for curtains (or 2 yards 45”)

1 ¼ yard black cotton or gauze for backdrop

6 taps for chair legs

1.  Build the frames first.

2.  Lay out the fabric, wrong sides together.   Cut pieces to cover, allowing enough fabric to wrap around the fames. 

3.  Staple fabric to frame, starting at the top middle, then bottom middle, then the middle of each side, working your way from middles to ends.

4.  Add hinges.

5.  Make a triangular pediment using cardboard for stiffener.  Add a layer of quilting and use scraps to cover.  (I sewed a triangle, then stuffed the cardboard inside it. 

6.  Add ties to hold pediment (pinned to frame).

7.  Make curtains.  They can hang from a string or a rod.

8.  Attach backdrop. (I fasten the backdrop with pushpins but may eventually do something more permanent.)

9.  Hammer in 2 taps per side on the bottom of each frame—this will protect the fabric.

Now you’re ready for a puppet show! 

Diagram, Outside of Puppet Theatre


Diagram, Inside of Puppet Theatre


Inside the Puppet Theatre

Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth Puppets

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

The Serpent, Eve, Adam, Noah, and Mrs. Noah

Just for fun, I decided to make the puppets that appear in Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth.  The kids in Mary Mae’s Sunday School class used balsa wood for heads, but you can’t get balsa wood any more—except in strips (the story takes place in 1988), so I used big blocks of florist foam.  It carves easily with a kitchen knife.  I sliced off all the hard edges, making it rounder, and dug out a finger hole with the point of the knife.  I didn’t want to carve too much because the kids in the story had no tools to do good carving and basically painted their characters’ faces onto a flat side.  I used what I carved away to make noses and ears, gluing them on, and then painting—first two coats of white latex, then the face, using acrylic paint. 

 You’ll notice Mrs. Noah has blue hair.  That’s because it was the only color of yarn Mary Mae’s mother had.

More Puppets by Ashley Bryan

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Three puppets made from found objects, the first a lamp base

Puppet made from wine glass and sleeve

Elegant Puppets

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
Puppets made from animal skulls and bones


I visited Ashley Bryan two years ago and he showed me some of the puppets he’s made.  For the head he’ll use found objects such as animal skulls and shells, and for the body, old clothing, sometimes just a sleeve.  Then he’ll finished it off with trinkets and chains and other odd bits he collects.

Puppet Shows

Monday, January 18th, 2010

"Noah's Ark," the third of three puppet plays

Yesterday I uploaded the puppet show Mary Mae and her friends put on in “Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth.” It’s under “Pages.” Except for “Noah’s Ark,” most of it is not in the book, but I thought it might be fun to read or act out.  Orlin, the preacher’s son, plays God in “Creation.”  He’s a little full of himself and likes booming out “GOOD.  VERY VERY GOOD.”  He’s also fond of Bible words like “firmament” and “without form and void.”

 In the third play, Mary Mae plays Mrs. Noah.  She surprises everyone with her understanding of the problems Noah’s Ark would have had, and wonders where they’re going to keep the insects and how they’re going to keep such a huge boat clean.

Sandra Dutton inside puppet theatre

I’ve always loved puppet shows.  Recently I visited the Richmond Children’s Museum.  They weren’t doing any shows that day but I stepped inside their puppet theatre.