MY ART STORY by

Patricia Coffie

Waverly
Iowa

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Woman holding a puppet.

Patricia Coffie with puppet. Photo courtesy of Patricia Coffie

In the days when Waverly Public Library was building its programming, the Children’s Services librarian was sometimes necessary in two places at the same time. That is why I took the six pre-schoolers down to the meeting room to try out the new stage we had made out of a powdered milk drum from the local milk packaging plant.

There would be room for two pre-schoolers at a time. The first two chose a puppet apiece and snuggled inside lifting their puppets up at the top. Their show would be their own.

The first puppet began to sob. I said, “That little puppet seems very sad.”

The puppet said “I am very sad because my friend got runned over by a car.”

I said, “That is very sad and maybe you would like to rest for a while to feel better?”

The puppet disappeared. The other puppet moved to the center and then the first puppet’s sobs began anew as the puppet came back up.

I said “Little puppet, you seem to be sad some more. Maybe your friend will be better after lunch.”

“NO,” said the sobbing puppet. “My friend got killed dead by that car.”

I said “Oh, my. That is sad. Could this puppet talk to Mommy and see if that would help?”

The puppet disappeared and the sobbing stopped. Almost immediately, the puppet reappeared sobbing anew. I continued the conversation with suggestions as they came to me: talking to Dad, talking to the teacher, thinking good thoughts, etc. We spent much of the 45 minutes in conversation about love and loss and sorrow.

I did have the puppeteer with the sobbing puppet come sit on my lap long enough to have the other five puppeteers take turns in the stage.

When Storytime ended, we all walked dry-eyed up the stairs to Moms, Dads, and other adults. I spoke to the Mom and she said indeed the little friend had been killed by a car the day before.

The child had used puppetry at the library to work through overwhelming tragedy.

Patricia Coffie
Waverly, IA