Random acts of whimsy

by Vicky on May 2, 2010

I’m in love with the books of Baba Wagué Diaketé!  They are a storyteller’s dream, including action, drama, songs to sing, sound effects, and characters that take on a life of their own.  When I started thinking about featuring Diakité’s book, The Hatseller and the Monkeys, for this week’s Page Presents class, a vague memory surfaced of a footlocker in our storage area that was allegedly full of monkeys.  When I investigated, I could see part of a hand and a foot sticking out pitifully, but the hasp was stuck.

I enlisted the help of my colleague Anne, and we raided the tool drawer for something to pry it open with.  As the hasp gave way, the lid sprang open, and suddenly there were flying monkeys everywhere!  The locker had been tightly stuffed with 15 dogs and 13 monkeys. which burst free from their confinement explosively.  Anne promptly declared that we should line up the monkeys on our staff room couch, and I gleefully assisted.

Something tells me that monkeys will begin to appear frequently in the Page Presents show!

It was easy to talk my boss, Linda, into taking the part of the naughty monkeys for our storytime drama, since she had recently stolen the show as the (overly) helpful fairies (plural!) in our tandem telling of Margaret Read MacDonald’s story, “The Little Old Woman Who Hated Housework” at our spring concert.

In the story of The Hatseller and the Monkeys, the hatseller sets out on his way to a big festival without taking time to eat breakfast.  Halfway there, he gets tired and sits down to rest under a tree.  Soon he is snoring, and this alerts the monkeys to his presence.  They sneak down and steal his colorful hats.  When he wakes up and finds his hats missing, a hilarious exchange with the monkeys ensues, with the monkeys imitating everything he does.  After being pelted with mangos by the monkeys, the hatseller takes time out to eat the fruit and soon comes up with a better idea to trick the monkeys into giving back the hats.

Linda got out our big ladder, which we draped with camouflage fabric and greenery.  To our eyes, it looked satisfyingly tree-ish, especially when we added the monkeys all over it.  I’m not sure what the library patrons thought.  I kept seeing people approach and stand there bemusedly staring at it with their mouths open.

Mysterious monolith appears in Seattle's Magnuson Park on 01/01/2001

The appearance of a very tall, tree-ish ladder in the middle of the children’s room apparently had very nearly the same effect as the appearance of the Monolith in  Stanley Kubrick’s film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.  (Speaking of random acts of whimsy, a monolith appeared on Kite Hill in Seattle’s Magnuson Park on January 1, 2001, only to disappear and reappear mysteriously in other locations around town).

We had a great time with our dramatization of the story, and the kids loved seeing the antics of the naughty monkeys.

The Hatseller and the Monkeys storytime

Afterwards the kids made kufi hats from bulletin board border trim (another storage closet find!) and construction paper.  I found this idea in several places on the Web.  To make the hats a little more authentic, I found a photo of kente cloth and made a couple of color prints, which I cut up for additional trim for the hats.  It was a great project for the kids to make with minimal parental intervention, and they all went away proudly wearing their new kufis.

Kids wearing kufi hats made from paper

Matt and Zoey were back this week, and we repeated the African marketplace rhythm from last week for Mr. Matt’s Minute of rhythm instruction.  We had a younger group of kids this time, but many of them were still able to catch on to the rhythm, and the ones who didn’t were inspired to dance enthusiastically to the music (Angelique Kidjo’s “Battu” from the African Playground cd).

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