Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Congratulations to Cathy Hall, whose play, Oh, Deer. Oh, Dear was accepted for Anthology #1. Themes include homophones and homonyms. We also look forward to including Curly Reads a Book by Sarah V. Richard. Prominent elements include judging a book by its cover.

We have also accepted a (secular) Christmas-themed puppet play, A December Emergency, by Nikki Loftin, for our holiday anthology.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Q: I'd love to submit a puppet play, but I've never seen an amateur performance. Any hints to keep me from being too ambitious with my stage directions?

A: This ties back into the "rely more on dialogue and less on props" bit of advice. Do you want your puppets to manipulate an object? Do you think you could manipulate that object easily if you had a sock on each hand, your arms up in front of you, craning your neck sideways to read the script? It's possible, but not easy. If you want to use a prop, you might think about it being on the stage from the beginning. Many puppet theaters have a sort of shelf that can accommodate props like that. But also keep in mind that the more complicated your stage scenery is, the harder it is to put on your play. Not all libraries are likely to have a puppet-sized computer, or a rain stick, or a model train locomotive in their prop box. And that means that librarians will have to work harder to perform your play.

Q: So, yeah, dialogue. What kind of voice are you looking for?

A: Can you imagine Bert and Ernie performing your play and sounding natural? How about Lamb Chop and Charlie Horse? (YouTube is great for a refresher.) Think casual, think witty, think tongue-in-cheek. Remember that you're not only entertaining two-year-olds, you're also having to entertain their parents and the librarians. Libraries are great places for information... but they're great places for entertainment, too.

Q: When you say, "Characters should be flexible 'types'", what do you mean?

A: Some libraries have a closet chock-full of puppets. Others get by with a cardboard box. What characters does your play call for? If you craft it properly, the librarian should be able to substitute one puppet for another with a minimum adjustment of dialogue. Maybe your play absolutely, positively needs to have a hippopotamus puppet or else the whole thing falls apart, but such plays will really have to amuse and impress us otherwise.

Q: I'm always nervous about anthologies... I don't want to duplicate someone else's angle.

A: Keep checking for updates. We'll keep a running tally of the plays we accept, along with a few pertinent themes each incorporates, just for this purpose. (Look for the label "acceptance".) Just because you see we already accepted someone else's play about returning library books on time doesn't mean we won't accept a second, but if you see we have three or four plays with that theme, you might cast about for an idea that isn't so well-represented. And if it helps any, we're currently receiving about five general anthology subs for every one holiday anthology sub.

Best of luck, and feel free to query for more clarification!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Congratulations to Nikki Loftin, whose play, Readin' on the Range, was accepted for Anthology #1! For those who are keeping track at home, major themes include cowboys and pondering the question, what are books good for?

Friday, September 11, 2009


Q: I'd love to put together a play on how to use the Dewey Decimal System! Is that too mature for your kids?

A: What a cool idea, but it's a little advanced for our audience! A lot of them are still working on the concepts of "Big" and "Little", "Hard" and "Soft", "Loud" and "Quiet", numbers and colors and rhyming words and ABC's. Think closer to something you might see in a Sesame Street skit.

Q: I want to submit something, but everything comes out too preachy. Any suggestions?

A: Think along the lines of how a library can improve a toddler's life. For example, three plays that I've written for my library-- boy wants to be a comedian, boy only knows one joke, boy can check out joke books from the library. Or boy wants a pet, boy isn't quite clear on what you can do with a goldfish or a hamster, boy can check out books from the library to find himself the perfect pet. Or one friend goes to another friend's house for a slumber party, the guest is too bossy, the friend calls her on it, they find a compromise and decide to look into a book from the library about-- you guessed it! --how to have a sleepover. Make the problem funny, make the audience feel smart. The book or the library doesn't have to form the main component of the plot or be the setting, but if it doesn't, it should help provide the solution to the problem. You don't even need to show them reading the book, finding a funnier joke, finding the perfect pet, or finding a slumber party game both of them like-- it works better if you don't, because it leaves more to the audience's individual imaginations about what they found. Wrap it up nice and punchy. :o)

Q: What about fairy tale retellings?

A: A straight fairy tale retelling? Probably not. A fractured fairy tale? Possibly, but they're very present in the current body of literature for puppet plays. We're hoping to bring some new ideas into the niche, but we're not totally opposed to them. Using fairy tale/nursery rhyme characters in a totally new plot and setting? Go for it!

Q: My library doesn't have a puppet theater. What do they look like?

A: Puppet theaters vary in size, shape, and design, but they're probably not going to be able to hold a candle to the Von Trapp's private puppet stage. :o) Though some have backdrops, most just take place against the curtain. Rely less on props and more on dialogue. Remember, these puppeteers are amateurs! Be kind! :o) (I'll try and find some pictures and post them.)

Good luck, and feel free to write with a question if you need help with direction!