Puss in Boots

by Vicky on September 5, 2010

(Cue trumpet fanfare) It’s September! and this week Page the Bookworm finally returned from his travels to host Page Presents: Learn with Stories, Music, and Art for the first time at the Tony Hillerman Library!

Page explained that he had been chewing his way through a tasty book when he suddenly found himself in the midst of a story!  It turned out to be Charles Perrault’s story of “Le Maistre Chat, ou Le Chat Botté”—which we know as Puss in Boots.

Many years ago I was given the edition illustrated by Fred Marcellino, along with a matching Puss in Boots doll, and I had fun making the other puppets needed for the story.  For the Ogre’s transformation into a giant Lion, I had attached a lion mask and a lion-colored piece of fake fur to a large kite, which I swooped up from behind the backdrop for a great special effect!  When the Ogre transformed into a mouse, I flipped one of our cats’ small catnip mice over the backdrop, and Puss pounced on it immediately.  “Purrrrrrrrr….that was the best Ogre I ever ate,” the Master Cat murmured, cleaning his whiskers with a flourish.

Percussionist Matt Thomas, who brings us Mr. Matt’s Minute every week, was even more amazing than usual.  Since I had told him that I wanted to use period music for the story, he had researched seventeenth century French baroque dance music and taught us several steps: the pas grâve, the demi-coupé, and the chassée.

Then we played the Tambourins I & II from the Prologue to Rameau’s orchestral suite from Dardanus (a more stately version than this version on Youtube, which would be impossible to dance to).  The kids amazed us by clapping along in rhythm and performing the dance steps they had just learned.

I opened the puppet show with an overture: the first minute of the Rigaudon from Ravel’s Tombeau de Couperin, which really set the mood.  During the music, I buckled on a large belt, pulled on tall boots, and donned a cavalier hat.  At the end of the puppet show, which culminated with the wedding of the princess and the miller’s son, I played the celebratory Contredanse from Act IV of Rameau’s orchestral suite from Dardanus, and the children got to join in the celebration with their new baroque dance moves.

Afterwards the kids made elegant cavalier hats embellished with swooping feathers and a golden fleur-de-lys.

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