Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day #27: Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss -- and a different type of "hand" puppet altogether

In our house, we have read lots of Dr. Seuss, and The Lorax is one of our favorite stories. When our older daughter was two years old, she requested it EVERY night for months in a row. My husband and I can still recite most of it from memory -- and we were always totally busted if we even tried to skip a page. Even at two, she had an amazing steel trap of a memory.

I didn't realize it was Dr. Seuss' birthday until it was almost noon. As soon as I did, though, I knew I had to acknowledge it in the blogosphere. But what to do?

You never see the Once-ler -- only his hands.
Since The Lorax was a favorite, I felt that I had to include that. One of the things I love so much about that book is the way you never see the face of the "bad guy." When the Once-ler is shown, you only see his hands. But you learn so much about his character just by looking at his hands. Ah-ha! A different kind of hand-puppet -- one where the character is referenced only by hands. Interesting...

So for today's puppet (and in tribute to Theodore), I made some green gloves to recreate the Once-ler. I had some great fabric in my stash that worked perfectly!
The whole family at work -- with hands galore! (No faces...)

My daughter's knitting project (the same daughter who used to request this story over and over again!). She does some great stitching.
I think it's actually scarier that you cannot see the Once-ler's face. You cannot look into his eyes; he cannot look into yours. There is no chance to connect on a personal level.
Hands can portray emotions -- like excitement!
I think I could write a dissertation on the faceless Once-ler and mega-corporations (and how Dr. Seuss had incredible prescience), but instead I will just note that you can create a whole character just through use of the hand and gestures. For your typical hand puppets, the hands of the puppet are important for communicating so much, too. Think about it. The face of the puppet is how is it communicating? Oftentimes, it is through arm/hand movement and gestures (and body movement and gestures) In Japanese Bunraku tradition, the use of gesture has so much meaning and importance that each hand has its own puppeteer! (That's a slight oversimplification, but I would have to dedicate a year or more to explaining Bunraku...and you have to spend thirty years training before you can operate the right hand of the puppet.)

But we can all agree on this: Let's give Dr. Seuss a big hand!


  1. Wow, Heidi. What a fantastic post!

    I'm giving you both a big hand.

  2. Let's give you a big hand, too! This is wonderful - both the gloves and the insights. I had never before connected Onceler's facelessness to his obvious representation of big business.

    Those gloves are fab, and I'm in awe of you that you can just whip them up!