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Puppetry delights WPL

By Julia Beauregard
Hometown Weekly Editor

During the final days of summer vacation, Through Me to You Puppetry entertained children of all ages at the Westwood Public Library (WPL). The program encompassed puppet storytime, songs, and puppet freeplay for all attending children.

Leigh Baltzer, the puppeteer behind this delightful program, performs with a diverse range of puppets at schools, libraries, and even online. This program is thoughtfully designed to help children discover their voices, nurture their creativity, and inject additional elements of fun into storytime.

As the children entered the room, Baltzer warmly greeted each child with one of her puppet companions. Once the room had filled up, the puppet elucidated, "Today, we're going to read a story, sing a song, read another story, sing another song, and if time permits, we'll read one more story and sing another song!" Baltzer went on to explain that after storytime concluded, the children would be encouraged to engage in puppet freeplay.

The first story of the morning was "Little Blue Truck" by Alice Schertle. Many children in attendance expressed excitement upon hearing the title, revealing their familiarity with this popular picture book. Throughout the reading, the puppeteer posed questions to the children, fostering their reading comprehension, forging connections to the story and the tangible world, and further immersing them in the narrative. Other titles featured in the program included "A Color of His Own" by Leo Lionni and "Owl Babies" by Martin Waddell.

Baltzer coupled each story with a corresponding song, such as "Old MacDonald," the ABCs, and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." The children delighted in singing along with the puppets and showcasing their performances for their attending families.

Following the final song, the children eagerly gathered on the mat at the front of the community room for puppet freeplay. Baltzer informed the children that they were welcome to play with any of the puppets she had placed on the blanket. She then provided instructions on how to manipulate glove puppets, wand puppets, and finger puppets. Before allowing the children to select their preferred puppet, the puppeteer emphasized, "Puppets do not hit people, and puppets do not hit other puppets. Be safe." She encouraged each child to explore as many puppets as they wished. The children relished the opportunity to experiment with the various types of puppets provided; they played together, demonstrated their puppeteering skills to one another and to Baltzer as well.

The program proved to be immensely enjoyable for children of all ages in attendance. Westwood's families eagerly anticipate the opportunity to attend one of her shows again soon.

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