Children enjoy special day at Cragin Memorial Library

By Merja H. Lehtinen - ReminderNews
Colchester - posted Mon., Feb. 3, 2014
Goldie, one of the Pumpernickel Puppets, sang and danced to ‘These Boots Are Made for Walking’ with John McDonough. Photos by Merja H. Lehtinen.
Goldie, one of the Pumpernickel Puppets, sang and danced to ‘These Boots Are Made for Walking’ with John McDonough. Photos by Merja H. Lehtinen.

Children at Cragin Memorial Library were introduced to more than just books during the third annual statewide Take Your Child to the Library Day on Saturday, Feb. 1.

A professional puppeteer and marionette designer, John McDonough of Worcester, Mass., enthralled an audience of all ages with Pumpernickel Puppets performances, which included a large blonde marionette named Goldie singing and dancing to the song, “These Boots Are Made for Walking.”

McDonough is a lifelong puppeteer who knew what he wanted to be as soon as he saw his first puppet show. He was only 4 or 5, a precocious age to choose a career. It is "a calling," he said. McDonough read every book about the art, and studied all of its forms. Puppeteers are more common in Europe, and more frequently perform for adult audiences there, he said. Puppetry is a rather elite art form for children, as the making of puppets and their performance is expensive, and requires highly-skilled artisans and actors. It is a classical performing art that involves music as well as sculpture and design.

Today UConn offers one of the premier puppetry programs in the nation, said McDonough. "If a student wants to work with the level of puppetry marked by [the late Jim Henson's] Muppets on ‘Sesame Street,’ or similar TV shows, the student should attend UConn," he said. MCDonough performs about 250 shows a year from libraries to schools and private functions.

"Nothing in a puppet show is real," McDonough reminded the children. "It is all make believe. Nothing to be afraid of, always be quiet, but you can laugh! Close you eyes and imagine a jungle..." And then they were off into the imaginary world of the Pumpernickel Puppets. Two children’s stories, "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" and "The Lion and the Mouse," were featured.

In addition to those enjoying the puppet show, several parents were in the children's stacks looking at various books. Kelly Rapple chose to read a book quietly to her children, RJ and Mackenzie. Rapple works all week as an office manager for a medical office, so she said it means a great deal to her to spend a few quality hours on Saturdays reading to her children at the library whenever she can.

For more information about upcoming events at Cragin Memorial Library, call 860-537-7201.


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