Question for puppet people

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    From: Jane DorFman

    Date: Tue, 7 Feb 2017 10:23:28 -0500

    Several years ago I bought a Folkmanis Chinese Dragon puppet at a yard sale.
    He’s more than a yard long, red and gold, quite smashing, movable mouth, eyes, and tongue (if one has six fingers) and slightly scary.
    I’ve never used him.
    Can anyone think of a story that might go with him? I know the picture book ‘Everyone Knows What a Dragon Look Like,’ but the dragon in all his glory only comes on at the end. There is also one where a boy turns into a dragon–it has the origins of the pearl you see in Chinese dragons’ mouths. Something simpler would be good.

    From: Patricia Coffie
    Date: Tue, 07 Feb 2017 09:34:59 -0600

    I’ve been making puppets and seeing the miracles they allow in audiences for 50 years now. Puppeteers and Storytellers have had some good times too.

    Here’s a list of simple and joyful books I’ve used (in schools and libraries where I was employed). I particularly enjoy the peaceable dragon stories.

    Patterns, stories of the miracles, scripts or music ideas if you ask. These are not all the stories I know but these are book-based. There is also “The City Dog and the Country Dog” based on the book “The City Mouse and the Country Mouse.”

    Yes, I do workshops—even one where you make and take a cloth puppet to keep—presented at Northlands Storytelling Network 2016.

    These are gentle and joyful picture books. Kids in my classrooms and libraries have loved to share these in story and/or with puppets:

    Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. C1948, 1976.
    Puffin Books

    The Funny Thing by Wanda Ga’g. C1929, 1957.
    Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Book Series

    The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie DePaola. C1980.
    G. P. Putnam’s Sons

    The Popcorn Dragon by Jane Thayer. C1953.
    William Morrow

    Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton. C2007.
    Sterling Children’s Books

    The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame. C1938, 1966.
    Holiday House

    Tim Tadpole and the Great Bullfrog by Marjorie Flack. C1934.
    Doubleday & Co. Inc.

    Why Cowboys Sing in Texas by Le Grand Henderson. C1950, renewed.
    Houghton Mifflin

    The Wide-Mouthed Frog by Rex Schneider. C1980.
    Stemmer House

    NOTE: You must determine use and obtain permission for works under copyright.

    Works subject to copyright law. The United States copyright law protects “original works of authorship,” fixed in a tangible medium including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.

    Online at
    The ‘Fair Use’ Rule: When Use of Copyrighted Material is Acceptable
    Fair Use: It’s a Defense to Copyright Infringement
    Fair Use: The Four Factors
    Fair Use: What is Transformative?

    Patricia Rose Ballard Coffie
    Stories from Home
    203 Emery Drive
    Waverly, IA 50677


    From: “Barra the Bard”
    Date: Tue, 7 Feb 2017 13:06:41 -0500


    Wish I could see it, sounds gorgeous!

    During these dark winter days, now that Christmas is over, I’m using a red and gold dragon tea cosy each day, and was thinking about my favorite dragon tales (no, Bob, this is NOT my reply to your challenge! Still mulling that over.)

    There are two Chinese dragon tales I used to tell at the Pittsburgh Dragon Festival. I learned both from Joe Healy, and Joe Wos used to do an illustrated version of the first one, “The King Who Loved Dragons.”

    A prince was born in the year of the Dragon, so of course he grew up being taught about the wonderful qualities a dragon king should have. (Note: Eastern dragons, unlike the Western ones we know from St. George and other European legends and folktales, are not harmful. Instead of fire, they are creatures of the sky, of clouds and rain, ensuring the rice crop’s growth, and are therefore venerated in Asian countries.) He must be wise and generous, just and strong. So he had a fat little dragon night-light, and a dragon pull-toy, and a dragon kite, and dragons embroidered on his clothes. As he grew older, he had dragons embossed on his bow and sword, and of course at his birthday, he was given all kinds of dragon gifts, in various media: pictures, sculptures, wood, cloth, jade, etc. In time, he became a young king. Not long after, he summoned to his court all the artists in his kingdom. “I am the dragon king,” he said. “I love dragons! And I know exactly how the best one in my collection should look. One of you will make it for me. It is golden, with red scale along its back and tail, with five claws on its forefeet and six on its back feet, great wings half-opened, sitting on a cloud. The artist who succeeds will be given titles and wealth and land, and be my official Court Artist. But if you try and fail to make it as I wish, you will lose your head.”

    To his surprise, one after the other, all the artists declined. Some were ill. Some had to go on important journeys. Some were ill and had to go find healing. Some were much too busy. All had some excuse—except for the youngest, who had just qualified.

    “I can make your dragon for you, Your Majesty,” he said. “But it will take me a year and a day. May I return at the last hour of that day to give it to you?”

    The King wanted it sooner, but the young man was adamant. if he was to do it right, he needed all that time. At last the King agreed, adding, “And if you do not come, I will have my guards find you and kill all your family and you.”

    “I understand, Sire,” bowed the artist, and left.

    The King impatiently waited as the months, weeks and days dragged by. Finally it was the final day, and he alternately dozed (because he hadn’t slept well the night before) and sent asking if the artist had arrived yet. All the Court was gathered at the end of the day, eager to see.

    At ten minutes before the deadline, they heard footsteps coming rapidly down the hall towards the throne room. Guards opened the doors, and in came the artist, carrying his paint-box in one hand, and with an easel and canvas under the other arm.

    “Do you have my perfect dragon?” demanded the King.

    “It’s not quite time yet, Sire.” The artist set up the easel and opened the box. “Please tell me once again how the perfect dragon looks.”

    “It is golden, with red scale along its back and tail, with five claws on its forefeet and six on its back feet, great wings unfurled, flying out of storm-clouds over mountains,” the King said.

    As he spoke, the artist whipped out his palette and began painting.

    “My executioner is right here,” warned the King.

    “But the time is not quite come—ah!” and as the first gong of the water-clock struck the hour, he stepped back. “Please come look, Your Majesty.”

    Everyone watched as the King rose from his throne and walked around until he could see the painting. “Careful, Sire! The paint’s still wet,” cautioned the artist.


    The King’s face lit up. “Yes!” he exclaimed. “It’s perfect! That’s it! You may go, Executioner.”

    The artist was given beautiful robes, titles, riches, lands, and they had a great feast. But later, as everyone was leaving, the King called him back. “Tell me,” he said. “You made my dragon in less than five minutes. Why is it that you insisted you needed a year and a day to make it?”

    The new Court Artist smiled. “One of the first things artists learn is that it is human nature for patrons to change their minds after they commission a work. You too, Sire, changed a few details on your perfect dragon between describing it to all of us and today. I spent that year learning to paint a dragon in less than five minutes.”

    Love that story! It was the first one I accompanied with my harp.

    The other one I tell as a sequel to the first, although it can stand alone:

    “The King Who Demanded Dragons”

    Many years later, the Dragon King of the first tale died, and his step-son became King. This young man was determined to be even greater than his father, and had unfortunately been raised by his mother, who had taught him to believe he was smarter, stronger, and deserved to have whatever he wanted.

    One day he sent for the Court Artist, now an old man, and demanded he attend him at once. A message came, explaining that the artist was very busy and was ill.

    The King sent his guards to drag the artist in.

    Before the entire Court, the King arrogantly and rudely informed the artist that he had one day to create a mural of a dragon, or he would lose everything, including his head.

    “I will begin when I have the materials and the paint-box on my desk,” said the artist. “But I must have the room to myself and privacy to work.”

    “Very well,” agreed the King. “I’m going hunting.”

    So the materials and box were brought, along with the key to the throne room, and the artist began painting. Meals were left outside in the hall.

    The Chamberlain knocked on the door at the end of the day, to tell him that the time was up; the King and his Court must come in.

    “Just a moment,” called the artist. “It is not quite the hour.” Bending down, he opened a tiny secret compartment in his box, lifted out a small vial, and taking the tiniest bit of a shimmering substance on the tip of one finger, touched it to either eye of the dragon in his mural.

    Again the Chamberlain pounded on the door. “Open, by order of the King!”

    “I am ready,” came the reply, the door was unlocked, and everyone poured inside.

    From floor to ceiling, a splendid mural of the kingdom was visible, and in its center, one claw balanced on the highest mountain, was a magnificent dragon, wings unfurled.

    “Not bad, old man,” the King said. “I’ll have it painted over tomorrow. Dragons are so old-fashioned! You are no longer my Court Artist.”

    “Good,” said the artist. “I shall retire forthwith.”

    “Of course, you won’t need your belongings anymore; I’ll send my men to take them tomorrow.”

    Picking up his box, the old artist looked at the young man for a moment. “You have much to learn,” he said thoughtfully. Looking at the mural, he called, “Wake and fly!”

    “Look!” cried one of the courtiers, pointing.

    The King looked—and saw that the dragon in the mural had turned its head to look directly at him. The great wings began to flap, and then the dragon flew out of the mural. in one claw he picked up the artist—but in the other, he picked up the startled king. Then he burst through the window, flying away.

    They were never seen again.

    No one touched the mural.

    It is not wise to challenge dragons—or artists.



    From: Merrilee Hindman
    Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2017 19:22:36 -0500

    I have a Folkmanis red Chinese dragon. Not sure if it’s as long as yours. I used it recently to tell The Little Rooster and the Heavenly Dragon in Margaret Read MacDonalds book Celebrate the World. The dragon puppet has golden horns and in the story he “borrows ” roosters golden horns and never gives them back. The kiddos loved the dragon puppet.

    Merrilee Hindman


    From: Victoria G Dworkin
    Date: Fri, 10 Feb 2017 02:25:25 -0500

    I have a much smaller version of the Folkmanis red and gold Chinese dragon puppet, maybe 10 inches or a foot long?,, and also a small red Folkmanis dragon finger puppet (which has wings, so it is European rather than Asian, but I use it anyway). I most frequently use them both to tell the story of the carp that was determined to become a dragon, and swam through all the rivers of the world seeking the Dragon’s Gate, having heard that a carp with the persistence to swim up the Dragon’s Gate (a waterfall) could become a dragon – if it could then pass the dragon that is guarding the gate. I use the Chinese dragon puppet as the dragon guarding the gate, and the finger puppet as the baby dragon that the carp turns into after succeeding in passing all of the obstacles. I use a laminated paper stick puppet of a Chinese carp painting for most of the story, and bring the dragon in near the end, which is quite effective. The puppet does not have to be “on” for the entire story. When I was in China with Eth-Noh-Tec in 2006, we saw a waterfall in Yunnan that was considered to be the Dragon’s Gate, and had a statue at the top to demonstrate the story. I share that at the end of the story, since that makes it “real” to the children listening, although I tell them that there are other places in China that also claim to be Dragon’s Gate.

    Telling with a puppet a yard long might be difficult, although I have told the story of Frog and Snake are friends using a large Folkmanis toad puppet myself, and a yard-long stuffed toy snake that was manipulated by a volunteer child from the audience. I told the story with Frog as “my” character, and she had to follow my cues to act out Snake’s part. That worked very well.

    Both Fran Stallings and I are doing puppet workshops (separately) at the LANES Sharing the Fire conference in Plymouth, MA March 24-26. There will also be a puppet story swap on Friday night of the conference, that Gail Herman, Hope Lewis, and I are organizing. Puppets will be available to borrow for those who have never tried telling with them before. Take a story you know well enough to tell, match it with one or more of the puppets available, and see how you can integrate the puppet into the story, keeping to a five-minute time slot, or bring your own puppet and story and show us how you do it. If anyone is interested in learning more about storytelling with puppets, this would be a great conference to come to. Not to mention all the other wonderful stuff that will be happening at the conference. For more information, go to


    On Tue, Feb 7, 2017 at 10:23 AM, Jane DorFman <> wrote:
    Several years ago I bought a Folkmanis Chinese Dragon puppet at a yard sale.

    He’s more than a yard long, red and gold, quite smashing, movable mouth, eyes, and tongue (if one has six fingers) and slightly scary.

    I’ve never used him.

    Can anyone think of a story that might go with him? I know the picture book ‘Everyone Knows What a Dragon Look Like,’ but the dragon in all his glory only comes on at the end. There is also one where a boy turns into a dragon–it has the origins of the pearl you see in Chinese dragons’ mouths. Something simpler would be good.



    From: Mary Garrett
    Date: Sun, 12 Feb 2017 09:24:18 -0600

    You might ask Dan Keding for permission to tell his story of the Dragon’s Tear. It’s been a while since I heard it, but I still feel the sad loneliness of that dragon, and joy when the little boy overcomes his and his neighbor’s fear to befriend him.

    Stories Make the World Go Around,

    Mary Garrett St. Peters, Missouri

    Frog & Friends and Courage and Wisdom CDs

    Story Swap McClay Library 2nd Monday every month 6:30 pm


    Hi Jane,
    I suspect you would be better off with folktales to avoid the copyrighted material unless you are telling for your employer under Fair Use. (I should remember if you do or not, but this will help either way.) I know the dragon you are describing. He’s awfully heavy, unlike a smaller dragon Folkmanis also made. I have both and have tended to let the big dragon listen and observe my telling instead of taking a more active role. I also suspect you don’t want a dragon who is “bad.”
    I went to my catalog of folklore books I own, many of which should be available to you through interlibrary loan if not in your local library. I’ve copied the information on each book complete with any indexing. Here’s a quick explanation of abbreviations I used. “McD I” is Margaret Read MacDonald’s _Storyteller’s Sourcebook_ — that’s the original volume, not her second one. “FT” refers to the various editions of _Index to Fairy Tales._
    Two other quick notes, I included all of the note on the various Time-Life Enchanted World series instead of editing it down to just the Dragon volume. Muiriel Fuller’s name is not a typo. Her book was republished by Dover, so it’s fairly available.
    Brace yourself, here’s the list, it’s only 9 books, but the full listing is fairly lengthy.
    Child Study Association of America
    Castles and Dragons
    1958 Renewed in 1986, but by illustrator!
    Indexed in MacD. I & F.T. ’49-’72

    Fenner, Phyllis R.
    Giants & Witches & a Dragon or Two
    1943 with earlier
    Indexed in MacD. I & F.T. 2d Suppl.

    Fuller, O. Muiriel
    The Book of Dragons; Tales and Legends from Many Lands
    Indexed in F.T. Suppl.
    German (3), Rumanian, Sussex, French, Chinese, Danish, Greek, Bahamian, Welsh, Serbian, Norwegian, Ainu, English, Czech, Thessalian, Swiss, Cornish

    Hoke, Helen
    Dragons, Dragons, Dragons
    Indexed in MacDonald I

    Holman, Felice & Nanine Valen
    Drac; French Tales of Dragons & Demons
    Indexed in MacD. I

    Manning-Sanders, Ruth
    Book of Dragons
    Indexed in MacD. I & F.T. ’49-’72

    Manning-Sanders, Ruth
    Damian & the Dragon; Modern Greek Folk Tales
    Manning-Sanders, Ruth
    Indexed in MacD. I & F.T. ’49-’72

    Pratt, Davis & Elsa Kula
    Magic Animals of Japan
    Indexed in MacD. I & F.T.’49-’72
    Mermaid; fox; cat; monkey; toad; badger; tengu; crane; dragon; rabbit; kappa; tiger; Japanese version of The Terrible Drip Drip Drip

    Time-Life (The Enchanted World)series
    n.d. (Multiple volumes)
    Not indexed except as noted below
    Includes bibliography (+ separate index)
    Book of beginnings; Book of Christmas; Dragons; Dwarfs; Fabled land; Fairies & elves; Ghosts (Indexed in F.T. ’87-’92); Giants & ogres; Lore of love (Indexed in F.T. ’87-’92); Magical Beasts (indexed in F.T. ’78-’86); Magical justice; Night creatures (indexed in F.T. ’78-’86); Secret arts; Seekers & saviors (indexed in F.T. ’78-’86); Water spirits (indexed in F.T. ’78-’86); Wizards & witches


    YIKES! The new site here requires Log In to contribute. Just discovered a flaw in my own log in. I would indeed like my name, Lois Sprengnether Keel, attached to my posting here. I also have a rather unusual problem because this is now a WordPress site. I created an online catalog using WordPress for my church’s library, complete with a logo. I’ve yet to figure out how to reply to any WordPress site without that logo appearing when I’m not talking as our church librarian.
    LoiS(haking my head over the “joys of technology”)
    &, yes, that’s Lois Sprengnether Keel

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