Head, Body, Legs: A Story from Liberia

by Vicky on February 22, 2011

Head, Body, Legs: A Story from Liberia, retold by Won-Ldy Paye and Margaret H. Lippert (and illustrated by the inimitably fabulous Julie Paschkis) is a story made for shadow puppetry.

In the beginning, Head is all alone.

Head gets tired of eating only the things he finds as he rolls around on the ground.  He dreams of the cherries that he sees hanging on the trees.  So when Head meets up with Arms, he knows just what to do.

Mmmm, the cherries are delicious!

“Now this is really perfect,” declares Head.

Then Body comes bouncing along and flops on top of Head and Arms.

“Hey, watch where you’re going!” they shout, and Arms push him off.

“How can I?” Body demands.  “I don’t have any eyes.”

“Ah, but I do,” says Head.

“And I have seen mangos growing on a tree on the other side of the river.  Won’t you join us?  Together we could swim across the river and pick the mangos!

Body agrees.  He is like a big float, and Arms paddle furiously as Head shouts out directions.

They make it across the river and bounce up the bank to the tree.

But, try as they might, Arms can’t reach the mangos.

Just then, Head notices some legs standing around with feet on their ends.

“Hey, who are you?  What are you doing, just standing there?” Head calls to Legs.

“We were just walking along and we ran into this tree,” Legs complain.  “We can’t see where we’re going.

Head soon convinces them to join up with the rest, and Legs attach to the hands .
“No!” Arms protest.  “Hands need to be free to pick mangos.”

“And I need to be in the middle because I’m the biggest,” says Body.

“And I need to be at the top where I can see!” says Head.

So they all trade places, and eventually they all successfully work together to pick the mangos.

“Now THIS is perfect!” says Head.

And here they all are, dancing their happy Mango Dance.  Let’s join them, shall we?

The kids loved the shadow play.  Most of them were sitting rapt in front of the puppet theatre (it was reported to me), but a handful were peeking around the back and observing the play from behind the scenes.  The play required careful blocking and liberal use of velcro!

Afterwards the kids loved making their own Head (Arms) Body Legs persons.  And who could resist dancing to the infectious African rhythms?

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