Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The King Herod Play: The Story of a Polish Christmas

“What if I haven’t been good enough to receive gifts from St. Nicholas?” Lena Nowak said to herself on Christmas Eve morning. 

The 11-year-old girl in Bolk√≥w, Poland, rolled over in bed, wondering if she had fibbed too much or not worked hard enough in school. 

“Maybe I can put on a King Herod Play for St. Nicholas and his angel helper when they visit the house?” she asked, hoping that she still had time to contribute Christmas cheer to the special season. 

So, all day, Lena worked to make hand puppets for the characters of the traditional King Herod Play, a Christmas folk play.

“Dear, what are you doing?” her mother asked. “Your grandmother is always in charge of the King Herod Play.” 

“I polished my shoes yesterday, so I’ll leave them by the Christmas tree for gifts,” Lena said. “In case St. Nicholas comes in person, I want to put on a King Herod Play for him with my puppets. I’ll show you and Dad after dinner!”

All day, Lena worked on painting and gluing puppets, starting with the wicked King Herod, who caused the killing of boy infants in Bethlehem when he heard that a child would be born as Messiah. Other characters in the play included an angel, a soldier, a village man and his wife, a cavalryman with his horse, a Field Marshal, the Devil, Death, and gravediggers.

“The Herods are coming tonight!” Lena said, joking with her dad, as he watched her make a small stage in the house.

“The play is going to be fancy!” her father said. “I will set up chairs for everyone in the family, so we can enjoy it after Wigilia,” he said, which is the Polish Christmas Eve dinner with twelve dishes to commemorate the Twelve Apostles.

“Oh, no! I’ve run out of glue,” Lena said, as the last drop of glue dripped from the bottle. “What will I do now? Nothing I ever do is good enough. I try and try, but I just can’t ever get anything right. I can’t get glue from the store on Christmas Eve. St. Nicholas will never want to sit and listen to my play if things aren’t glued properly.” A tear ran down her cheek.

“I’ll finish as much as I can without the glue,” she said. “Then, maybe I’ll have to wait until next year to put on the play!”

She ran into her room and threw herself on the bed, crying. 

“Come eat some pierniki, apples, and oranges!” her mom invited. “Dinner is almost ready! I’m sure that St. Nicholas will love your puppets. It’s just glue. It will somehow stick together!”

During the evening, her grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, neighbors, and friends gathered for Christmas Eve dinner. Lena lit a candle in the window, symbolizing the Christmas Star in the night sky, lighting the way for Jesus. She hung sparklers on the family Christmas tree, adding extra “little stars” as Christmas Eve decorations.

As she looked at her puppets, sitting next to the Christmas tree, she wished that she had enough glue to finish the project. Despite all, she broke the oplatek Christmas wafers at dinner, and then ate as much as her tummy could hold. She enjoyed the beetroot soup, Polish Christmas carp, herrings, pierogi, sauerkraut, cabbage rolls, kutia, and Polish piernik gingbread. 

By the time dinner was finished, there was a sudden knock on the door, and the children cheered: “He has come!” In shame, Lena ran into the corner and cried, because she thought St. Nicholas would surely overlook her efforts. 

“Merry Christmas!” St. Nicholas cheered, walking past everyone else in the home straight to Lena with his filled sack. His angel helper stood by the door with more gifts, waiting for the perfect moment to give everyone their reward. 

“I’ve heard that you need glue to finish your King Herod Play,” St. Nicholas said, handing her a new jar of glue. “Now, while I hand out the rest of the gifts, why don’t you finish the puppets, and then we’ll enjoy your production?”

“Yes, sir,” Lena said, throwing her arms around him and drying her eyes on his long white beard and red jacket.

By the time everyone else had received their gifts, Lena had finished gluing the last touches of her puppets and stage. 

“Time for the King Herod Play!” she said. “Everyone, take a seat! St. Nicholas you may sit in the front with your angel.” 

The tenderness of the Christmas drama from the heart of the child warmed everyone in the room, including St. Nick. As the play finished, her family and friends were filled with Christmas cheer and amazed at Lena’s talents and abilities. 

“Did you do all this by yourself?” St. Nicholas said. “I’ve never seen such a wonderful Christmas play by a child!”

Then he handed her a large sewing kit to make costumes for upcoming plays and books about the ancient Greek theater. 

“Thank you so much!” Lena said. “I’ll put on an even better Christmas play next year. This is only the beginning!”

Then St. Nicholas gathered his things, promising to return for each of her plays, expecting to be featured in them. 

“Oh, my darling, I think I gave you a selfish Christmas gift! Next year, I would love to have the central role on the stage!” he joked, handing hand-blown Christmas tree ornaments to Lena and her family as he walked out the door with his angel. 

“Until next time,” St. Nick chuckled, “Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia!


Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters 

 

Polka Dots: The Story of the Shape of Things

Polka dots are circles, 

Not at all square. 

They don’t have sides, 

Not oval like a pear. 

They come in every color, 

Every shade, and every hue. 

Even black and white, 

Circumference meant for you!

A hexagon has six sides,

An octagon eight. 

A wedge is part circle,

Not all parts are straight.

Dots and spots are round, 

Almost like a wheel,

But a triangle is pointy, 

Three sides for real.

If you have to choose, 

And make the shape of things,

Pick polka dots for fun

Like butterflies in spring!

 

Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pantomime: The Story of Funny the Clown

Hello, you, I’m Funny the Clown. 

I’m dramatic, zippy, and never frown.

Performing to music is my gift. 

My body movements are very swift.

I speak with gestures instead of words,

Almost like a flock of birds.

My orange hair bounces when I’m wild.

The curls release my inner child.

I bob my head when I agree,

A bit like a swaying cherry tree.

When I’m afraid, I make a scary face.

This feeling is rather commonplace.

I exaggerate my eyebrows if I want a laugh.

Let me give you my autograph!

My forehead wrinkles when I’m confused.

I’m sure this makes you quite amused.

I roll my eyes if you’re telling tales,

That approach never ever fails.

My ear twinges if you same my name.

But I never really wanted fame. 

My red nose gets scrunchy when I sneeze,

Which happens often in the summer breeze.

My cheeks grow pink if I’m flustered. 

I’m liable to become super blustered. 

If I grind my teeth, it means I’m mad.

Earlier in the day, I might have been sad.

I close my mouth when I want to think,

And thinking finds the missing link.

I bite my tongue when I have hunger.  

This worked better when I was younger.

Pursing lips mean that I love you. 

Like two doves flying high above you.

I take it on the chin if I am wrong.

Of course, I knew my mistake all along.  

My neck is crooked if I am lost. 

This makes me feel ruffled and tossed. 

I shrug my shoulders when I give up. 

Put my back to the wall, and I’ll say: “Yup.”

My stomach sticks out when I am full.

I can cover it over with cotton wool.

When I throw up my arms, I want attention. 

Sometimes this helps to cause prevention.

If I elbow you, please mind your manners. 

I shouldn’t have to run a golden banner. 

My hand signals are a private matter. 

If you know the code, it’s only flatter. 

I cross my fingers when I hope for the best. 

My pinky has more bling than zest. 

When I bend my waist, I bow my knee.

My leg and ankle follow me. 

I wiggle my foot when I’m worried. 

Sorry, if my heels look hurried. 

My big toe stands up when I’m disgusted.

This probably means someone’s busted.

Please read the language of my body. 

My clown outfit has never been gaudy.

I juggle balls and clap my hands

And gain a couple hundred fans. 

I would rather live what I mean,

Instead of being a word machine.

So, you can now talk without a sound.

That way of speaking is quite profound!

Almost like the locomotion, 

Pantomime with much emotion!

 

Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters

Hopscotch: The Story of the Game of Numbers

Hopscotch! Oh, throw me a bone!

Can I play with you? Here’s a stone.

Now draw the outline with this chalk.

Fill in the numbers block by block.

I’ll count the numbers as you jump.

Let’s start with one! The stone goes thump.

Balance yourself with one foot.

Make your wobbling leg stay put.

Bend down and pick up the rock. 

Swoop the stone up like a hawk. 

Throw the stone to number two.

Then jump strong and stick like glue!

If the stone lands outside the line, 

Just try again, you’re doing fine.

Don’t jump ‘til you hit the mark.

You can get it in the ballpark. 

Next you jump to number three,

Landing on both feet is the key.

Toss the stone to the fourth square. 

Number four has certain flair. 

Then land on one leg with ease.

Dot your i’s and cross your t’s. 

Breathe in deep and enjoy the sun.

Look how far you’ve come since one.

Cast the rock to number five. 

Jump with a smile and a hand jive. 

Bounce the rock to number six. 

Oh, what a bag of silly tricks!

The next is lucky number seven,

Four less than number eleven, 

But eleven isn’t on the grid. 

By number ten, flip your lid!

Now ten is the larger goal. 

Next is eight; you’re on a roll.

Land with both feet on nine.

Almost there! The finish line. 

Calmly toss the stone to ten,

And I’ll say I knew you when!

I knew you when you were at one,

The place where you had begun,

But ten is now the place to be.

I know that you must agree!

If you want to descend the scale, 

Backtrack across the trail. 

Ten, nine, eight, seven, six,

Jump backwards across the bricks.

Five, four, three, two, one,

It’s my turn! Your round is done.

Glad you let me play with you!

You jumped like a kangaroo.

Learn your numbers: one to ten. 

Then write them with your ink pen. 

Young and old; old and young.

Numbers might as well be sung. 

Hopscotch is for kids of all ages.

For all the world on all its stages!

 

Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters

Friday, June 10, 2016

"Wonderworker," A MERRY CHRISTMAS CAROL

VERSE:

Wonderworker, won’t you work a miracle for me?

It’s Christmas, and I put up my evergreen tree. 

Now, I’m hanging my list of wishes on its trunk.

Excuse me if I have a lot of holiday spunk. 

 

PRE-CHORUS:

For Christmas I would like love and not hate—

I’d like a world that has only that trait.

If you could please bring me friends who are true, 

Instead of false friends who always fall through. 

 

CHORUS:

No one can work a wonder like you.

Wonderworker, make my Christmas dreams anew!

No one can work a wonder like you.

Wonderworker, make my Christmas dreams anew!  

 

VERSE:

I’d like a little more sun and much less dark 

With flowers to enjoy on the bench at the park.

And when it’s not summer, then I must have snow.

Winter’s too cold when there’s no white aglow. 

 

PRE-CHORUS:

Then I’d like calm on the tumultuous days.

Wonderworker, you must have your ways

To work wonders that no eye has seen. 

I’ve left you cookies for your nighttime cuisine.

 

CHORUS:

No one can work a wonder like you.

Wonderworker, make my Christmas dreams anew!

No one can work a wonder like you.

Wonderworker, make my Christmas dreams anew!  

 

BRIDGE:

More than anything I would like a new song.

Singing is the only way to keep your heart strong. 

I’ll be listening for a melody to come to me. 

This is my honest, earnest prayer and plea.

 

CHORUS:

No one can work a wonder like you.

Wonderworker, make my Christmas dreams anew! 

No one can work a wonder like you.

Wonderworker, make my Christmas dreams anew! 


Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Musical Alphabet: The Story of Singing A to Z

A is for a cappella when you want to sing alone. 

B is for beat, which is almost like a tone. 

C is for concert when you’re standing on a stage.

D is for duet when you have a partner to engage.

E is for echo if the music falls behind you. 

F is for forte if the volume doesn’t find you. 

G is for guitar with its body and six strings. 

H is for harmony when a chord grows wings. 

I is for interval, or the space between two notes.

J is for jazz that a bebop scale promotes. 

K is for key to regulate the music pitch. 

L is for lyric that good rhymes can enrich. 

M is for melody that you sing inside your heart. 

N is for note when you need a place to start. 

O is for opera which is performed at a house. 

P is for piano with works by Mozart and Strauss.

Q is for quartertone for half a semitone count. 

R is for rhythm like it’s coming from a fount. 

S is for song, which is something that is sung.

T is for tune that you learn when you are young.
U is for unison when you sing with many friends. 

V is for voice, which has its dips and bends.

W is for waltz if you want to dance in three. 

X is for xylophone that you play on your knee.

Y is for yodel if you like to call or shout. 

Z is for zills because the letters have run out!

 

Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Rockin' Roller Skating Rink: The Story of Girls and Boys Holding Hands

Rockin’ round the roller-skating rink!

Spinning in circles is harder than you think.

Girls and boys meet for the first time. 

The rink walls are a height to climb. 

The wheels on the skates roll so fast. 

Pull the laces tight so they will last.

Keep your balance; don’t fall down.

Hold my hand and turn around. 

Skate with me on the rink all day. 

It’s more fun than flat-feet-play. 

Once you go forward, you can skate back. 

Just like dancing to a music soundtrack.

The disco ball and flashing lights 

Are spectacular roller-skating sights.

We can roll and sing up to middle C.

Come party on the rink with me!

 

Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

REBECCA BUTTONS synopsis

LOGLINE:
A teacher who believes in children’s dreams can help make those dreams come true in spite of discouraging thinkingespecially if she gives them magic buttons from her magnificent collection.

PITCH:
Miss Rebecca Buttons is a teacher who encourages children to believe in the impossible, using her huge magic button collection as talismans for their dreams. One student’s mom is a skeptic who tries to make her daughter be realistic and forget all the button wisdoms. But Rebecca Buttons persists and prevails, using her buttons to inspire the young girl, who eventually becomes a teacher herself and takes over Miss Button’s role and her collection of incredible buttons.   

SYNOPSIS:                                                  
Dainty teacher Rebecca Buttons is Headmistress of Wormwood School for Higher Learning. When parents give her trouble, she is quick to set them straight, telling them that children must have flourishing imaginations. She wants her students to be able to do more than read or write, she wants them to know how to sing and fly kites. More than math and science, Miss Buttons tries to teach her students to believe in the impossible. If someone tells you that you can’t do it, show defiance, get determined, and find a way to accomplish that dream. She thinks her collection of magic buttons is better than pennies or nickels. If a student comes to her in tears, she tries to calm their growing fears, tells them to take a button from the pickle jar, and then to wish upon a star.

Gracie Suttons is especially feisty and wears cute and lacy dresses to school, but Gracie’s mom, Mrs. Suttons, hates buttons. She thinks giving students buttons is ridiculous. However, Rebecca doesn’t care what Mrs. Suttons thinks and tells her that buttons can help any decision, and that she should broaden her thwarted view of life. Through the school, Miss Buttons runs a string that loops buttons for charm. Rebecca constantly reminds the children what buttons mean: “Be kind to others. Believe in the impossible goal. No one can give up!” Even if Mrs. Suttons wrinkles her nose, Rebecca ignores her. Miss Buttons insists that the world needs teachers, space walkers, doctors, artists, preachers, storytellers, chemists, deep-sea divers, architects, actors, and camel drivers. She insists that parents must tell their children the truth. Don’t lie to the children! Children were created to do mighty things and must spread their wings and fly.

When Rebecca’s buttons are stolen, she becomes so angry that her cheeks are swollen. She thinks that Mrs. Suttons has gone crazy and stolen the buttons for sure. Miss Buttons hides her buttons in a secret room behind her office wall, a hall with buttons of every kind in alphabetical order depending on the problem they remedy. Once or twice a year, she stocks up on wisdom buttons, hiring the Wormwood Button Elves to find lost buttons all over town. Although she continues to fill her pickle jar, she never shows anyone the secret room, except young Gracie Suttons, whose mother has told her to be a cleaning lady for the rest of her life. Gracie’s life has new possibility because she takes a button from every jar. Later in life, Gracie acquires Miss Buttons’ teaching job, and Mrs. Suttons never finds the button vault, which Gracie inherits. A button reminds everyone to never say never!

Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters