Thursday, April 11, 2013

Flannel Friday: Star Cookies

(Disclaimer: This is a post in which I talk a LOT. You have been warned.)

Awhile ago, I went to the theater to see Pixar's Brave. As usual, there was a charming little short before the film began. This time around, it was La Luna, the story of a young boy who embarks upon the family business of sweeping up the stars.

Picture from Flicks News

For some reason, as I watched, all I could think about was how much the stars looked like cookies. (Spoiler: They don't actually look that much like cookies.) I couldn't get it out of my head. Star cookies, I thought. Star cookies are most definitely a thing!

This bugged me for days. Finally, I realized that I had read a story as a child about star cookies! Bits and pieces started to come back to me, and after some serious investigative googling, I came across this post on Notes from the Story Room. I was validated! Star Cookies is William Wiesner's simplified take on a traditional Indian folktale. Although the aforementioned blog was unable to track down a picture book version of the tale, I KNOW one exists, since that's what I remember from my childhood. It might be a standalone picture book, or it might be part of a collection of stories - William Wiesner has a collection called Moon Stories, which is out of print, but I think that might have been the one I read.

Anyway, all of my rambling aside, as soon as I saw that Notes from the Story Room had made this story into a flannel board, I KNEW I wanted to give it the same treatment. Thus, Mother Sky was born:

Mother Sky is a large piece of blue felt, with a light blue oval of craft foam glued down to one corner. Her hair is strips of felt, again, glued into place. I had initially intended to make her hair black, but then I was worried she might look a bit too scary for my kids, so I went with shades of purple instead.

Aaaaand here is a closeup!

Along with her son, Sun:

Sun was VERY simple. I punched out a yellow craft foam circle and drew a face on with Sharpie. Easy-peasy!

Her daughter, Moon:

Moon was also pretty easy. I punched out a white craft foam circle, as I didn't have any grey, then mixed up some white and black paint and, using a sponge, daubed it on very lightly. The one downside to this method is that it was a massive pain to draw over the paint with markers. Worth it though, because I like the splotchy effect it gave Moon.

And Uncle North Wind. (Please use your imagination to picture an older gentlemen with long, flowing grey hair and a beard, each of which curls and twists into twirls of wind. That is totally what Uncle North Wind would have looked like, had I not run out of time to make him, hah. Yaaaaay, overly ambitious flannel boards!)

Now, Notes from the Story Room gives a pretty succinct version of this story, but I'm going to go ahead and make up a separate post with the version I cobbled together. I never did manage to find a copy to look at before I did this flannel board. (It's a long and harrowing tale of unhelpful responses, a semi-restricted room that purports to be public, and ridiculous hours that for some reason are NOT POSTED ON A WEBSITE. Ahem. But on that note, thank you to my brother, who made four separate trips to the library in an attempt to get a look at this book for me. We may have failed in our endeavor, but my flannel board totally triumphed, so TAKE THAT.)

Anyway, please take a moment to go read through my version of the story, here, since it will help explain the rest of this post a bit better.

Now, since I didn't have Uncle North Wind, when Moon and Sun arrive at his house for lunch, I simply prompted my kids with, "And Uncle North Wind greeted Sun and Moon with a great big WHOOSH." And then we all made that sound together, which they seemed to have a great time with. (Toddlers are the best, everybody.)

Here are Uncle North Wind's delicious star cookies! Again, SUPER simple to make. I printed out some yellow stars, cut them out, then smeared some gold glitter point on them, to give a nice, shiny effect. They attach easily to the flannel with a little square of velcro on the back.

I don't have a picture of this part, but please picture Sun and Moon on my flannel board (with Uncle North Wind there in spirit). We counted out six stars for Moon, and six stars for Sun. And dear readers, let me tell you - the minute I brought out these star cookies, my kids were ENCHANTED. The best description I can think of for it is zombie toddlers. I had two who were immediately up at the board, pulling at the star cookies, and when I looked out at my rug, another three were standing up, their arms already outstretched. Staaaaaaaar. Cooooookiiieeeeees. It was hilarious.

After rescuing my star cookies from my, as ever, hands-on toddlers, we talked about how Moon very politely thanked her Uncle and took a single cookie to munch on. Sun though, despite the fact that he was VERY FULL from lunch, gobbled ALL of his cookies up! And then he tried to take some of Moon's! Clever Moon slipped them into her bag instead, to take home to share with Mother Sky.

Sun before his cookie rampage.
Well, with all of that gobbling, Sun started to get hot.

Sun midway through his cookie rampage.
 And the hotter he got, the BIGGER he got...

OH NO, SUN, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE. (End of cookie rampage.)
...and the unhappier he got, because eating all of those cookies means you are in for a big tummy ache.

For comparison's sake; Sun before cookie rampage, and Sun after cookie rampage. Midway rampage!Sun actually exists on the back of my original Sun. I painted him with yellow and orange paint, while Big!Sun got some added red, along with a few shakes of glitter.

Well, after all of that, Uncle North Wind bid Sun and Moon goodbye. Mother Sky spotted them coming from quite a ways off, and she, of course, immediately noticed Sun's flushed state. She guessed that Sun gobbled up all of Uncle North Wind's cookies (because she's Mother Sky, and she knows what's up). She scolded him, then told him he needed to go apologize to Uncle North Wind, and Sun immediately threw a TERRIBLE TANTRUM. (Sun's having a bad day, guys.) He stomped his feet, crossed his arms, scowled a frightful scowl, and stormed off across the sky to the daytime, where he decided to stay from now on.

Moon, on the other hand, showed Mother Sky the cookies she brought back to share. Mother Sky exclaimed over how beautiful they were - much too pretty to eat! - so Moon helped her fix them to her robe, and Mother Sky asked Moon to stay with her each night, to polish the stars and make sure they are shining their brightest. And that's why we only see the Sun during the day, and the Moon and the Stars at night!

Our final scene, Moon and Mother Sky, and Mother Sky's brand-new, beautiful, starry robe.

I had such a fun time with this flannel board, both making it and sharing it. It is a little bit intensive in terms of removing pieces and putting them on, so do be aware that a run-through or two probably wouldn't go amiss. My second and third times doing this went much more smoothly than the first. Also, I tried to focus particularly on the theme of politeness. My 2-and-3-year-olds were possibly juuuust a little young for this story, but I figured they could relate to how important it is to share and to say please and thank you. Also, I didn't love the idea of Sun being scolded just because he ate a lot of cookies. (Granted, I don't remember if that's the focus of the original telling or not - I think it actually might have been that Sun didn't bring anything home to share with his Mother, but that just seemed too complicated to me.) Anyway, I was more comfortable with Sun's wrongdoing being that he was rude and greedy and impolite.

Overall, I say this was a hit! I was worried it would be a bit long for my kids, but most of them paid attention the whole way through. AND it fit in perfectly with my story time theme, which was The Sun, the Stars, and the Moon!

(If you have made it all the way to the bottom of this post, CONGRATULATIONS. You deserve a star cookie! Staaaaaaar. Cooooooookiiiieeeeeee.)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing. I love stories that are personal.