By Kay Lincycomb
Pete and his friends are excited to be out of school for the summer, but soon find themselves bored when no one wants to play the same games. A visit to their library and the summer reading program saves the day and the summer. Interest level is toddler to lower grade school.
Use the same outdoor background as suggested in the first puppet play. If you wish, draw a cardboard or paper door to add for the last scene when they leave the library.
The animals used in this play can be substituted for those you already own, to avoid having to order more puppets. For example: Pete could be a gopher, groundhog, or a hamster; Rex could be a jackrabbit; Cindy could be any Texas animal who just likes to sing instead of howl; and Buster could be a wolf or a vulture.
- Pete Prairie Dog
- Rex Roadrunner
- Cindy Coyote
- Buster Bobcat
Notepad for Pete’s drawings
Puppets: Add accessories you wish to go with the individual characters and their interests, for example:
Pete: hardhat, tool belt, etc.
Rex: stopwatch or towel around neck
Cindy: earphones, small boom box
Books for the animal to check out if you want them to hold up the books. Or you might use pictures of books, or book covers.
Outdoor western backdrop or solid color backdrop or sheet
Cardboard door to represent the library door
Scene I: On the Prairie or in a Western Town
Pete: (Enters singing) School’s out! School’s out! (To audience) Hi, I’m Pete, the prairie dog. I am so excited! School’s out for the summer! Now, I can play all I want with all my friends. I’ve got such great plans for the summer. I want to sleep late, watch as many cartoons as I want, and dig all sorts of new and neat holes. I’ve been thinking about all kinds of cool designs and drawing them on my sketchpad. What shall I do first? (Thinking) Hmmmmm. I think I’ll visit my friend Rex the Roadrunner and see if he wants to play. (Walks to side of stage and knocks) Hey Rex, can you come out to play?
Rex: (Enters) Hi, Pete!
Pete: Do you want to play?
Rex: Oh, yes I do! What shall we play first?
Pete: Let’s dig some new and neat holes. Look at this. (Shows him the paper) I have this new design with three loops and four levels. And look at this one. If we dig it by the lake, we can make a water slide right into the water, and...
Rex: (Interrupting) Oh, I have a much better idea. Let’s race! We can have a race to the big cactus and back, then we can run all the way to the mountain and then back, and then...
Rex! We can run to the candy store in town and the first one there has to buy prickly pear taffy for the other, and then....
Pete: I don’t run very fast, so that doesn’t sound like much fun to me. I think we could have much more fun digging new and neat holes. Here, look at this design; it has a maze and everything...
Rex: (Looking) Well it does look pretty cool. But Pete, I can’t get around underground very well at all because I don’t have any arms or claws, and it’s so dark and scary underground. Let’s just race a while and you’ll see how much fun it is.
Pete: I’d make the holes big enough for you to stand up straight, and I’ll even do the digging, and you can just follow me around till it’s ready. If you’d just give it a try I know you’d like it. It would be so much fun!
Rex: I don’t think so, Pete. Sorry, but I guess I’ll just go running with my little brother. Maybe we can play something tomorrow. Bye! Beep! Beep! (Exits)
Pete: Bye Rex. (Big sigh) Gee, running is no fun. We could have had so much fun digging holes, if he’d just give it a try.
Cindy: (Off stage, howling)
Pete: (Looks up and listens) Hey, that must be my friend Cindy the Coyote. Cindy! Hey Cindy, I’m over here.
Cindy: (Enters) Hi, Pete! Are you enjoying your summer?
Pete: No, not really, Cindy.
Cindy: Oh, why ever not?
Pete: I have all these neat and wonderful new holes planned. Look at these designs - they are awesome! It’s gonna be so much fun digging them! But no one wants to do it with me.
Cindy: That’s awful.
Pete: Say, Cindy, you always like to hang out with me in my den, so you must like dirt and holes. Look here, look at my plans. Look at this one with the loops, and this one has a little hidden room.
Cindy: (Looks at paper) They seem very nice, Pete. And they would be fun to play in once they are built, but....
Pete: You like them, don’t you?? Do you want to help me dig ’em? Do ya, do ya, do ya???
Cindy: Well, Pete, Coyotes don’t actually like digging their own dens. We’d much prefer just finding a den already built. I have a better idea. My mom has enrolled me in howling school this summer, so I can sing to the moon much better. Listen. (Clears throat) Owwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!
Pete: (Shakes head) Oh that was very...ah...very...ah...loud.
Cindy: Why, thank you, Pete. So I was thinking, once you built your holes and tunnels, we could hang out inside one, and practice singing together.
Pete: I’m a prairie dog, Cindy, so I can’t really howl. I can bark a little, wanna hear? (Barks softly)
Cindy: You do need a lot of practice. Well, call me when you’re finished, okay? (Exits)
Pete: Okay! Bye, Cindy. Man, this summer is gonna be so boring. No one wants to play with me; they all want to do a bunch of stupid stuff that’s no fun. This is going to be the longest summer EVER! I’m already ready to go back to school. (Sighs and puts head down)
Buster: (Enters very quietly, looks at Pete, and taps him)
Pete: (Looks up and sees Buster Bobcat) Who are you?
Buster: I’m Buster the Bobcat.
Pete: (Screams) Ahhhhhh! A Bobcat! Please don’t eat me, please don’t eat me!
Buster: I’m not going to eat you, silly prairie dog. What’s your name?
Pete: (Stammering) I... I...I’m Pete, the prairie dog. Are you sure you won’t eat me?
Buster: Yes, I’m sure that I won’t eat you. I just had lunch at McDonalds, and I much prefer Happy Meals. I’d rather play with you than eat you.
Pete: I’m so glad!
Buster: What’s the matter? You look so sad.
Pete: Well, it’s summer, and we’re out of school. I’ve been looking forward to having fun with my friends digging these neat new holes I designed, but none of my friends want to play with me. They all want to do stupid stuff.
Buster: So they won’t do stuff you like.
Buster: And you won’t do stuff they like.
Pete: I guess not.
Buster: They’d rather do stuff they like.
Buster: And they must think that the stuff you like is stupid, at least to them.
Pete: I suppose so.
Buster: So no one will play what the other one wants, so everyone is bored and lonely.
Pete: I never thought of it that way.
Buster: What can anyone do?
Pete: I suppose if I would play what they wanted for a little while, and then maybe they would play what I want a little while.
Buster: That’s a great idea.
Pete: I’ll go talk to them.
Buster: You know, there is something fun that everyone could do.
Pete: What is it?
Buster: Now that summer is here, the library is starting their Summer Reading Program. You can read and win prizes and a certificate; and they have all sort of fun activities planned that everyone can enjoy.
Pete: Wow! Like what?
(Substitute activities that your library is having)
Buster: There’ll be a magician, and a storyteller; and someone who plays drums, and each week there will be a movie day with popcorn.
Pete: Oh, boy! That sounds like so much fun. Let’s go tell all my friends about it. And I want them to meet you; you’re a really neat guy, especially since you’re not going to eat us.
Buster: (chuckles) Great, let’s go. And I know a great book at the library. It’s called Taking Turns; I’ll read to you and your friends when we get there.
Scene II. Coming out of the Library
(Enter Cindy and Rex)
Cindy: I’m so glad Pete and Buster told us about the Summer Reading Program. I can’t wait to go to all the cool programs and movies they’re going to have.
Rex: Did you see all those cool prizes they’re giving away for reading?
Cindy: Yes, and I found so many books that I want to read. First I’m going to read Henry’s Song and then Goodnight, Moon.
Rex: I checked out The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit and The Big Race. I’m going home right now to start reading. Beep! Beep! Exits very quickly.
Cindy: Goodbye, Rex.
Cindy: Thanks for telling us about the Summer Reading Program, Buster. I enjoyed the book you read to everyone, and I’m glad you didn’t eat us. I’m going home right now, so I can read an hour before my howling lesson. Listen: Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!
Buster: My, Cindy that was, uh, loud!
Cindy: Why, thank you, Buster! Goodbye. (Exits)
Buster: Goodbye, Cindy!
Pete: (Enters) That book you read on taking turns was a hit. I think we can all play together just fine now, and everyone will be able play their favorite game for a while, if they take turns. And we can all enjoy the many activities at the library together. You saved the summer, Buster.
Buster: Thanks, Pete! But it was the Summer Reading Program that did that. I just told you about it. Did you find something good to read?
Pete: Yes, I’m going to read Digging for Dinosaurs and Holes by Louis Sachar
Buster: I think I may try Where’s My Tail.
Pete: This is going to be the best summer ever. Let’s go dig some holes, Buster:
By Kay Lincycomb
Leona Lou is the best cowgirl at Tumbleweed Gulch Elementary School. She can outrun, outfight, outswim, outtalk, and outread any kid in Texas. When she finds the summer reading program prizes have been stolen from the public library by Sidewinder Sam, she vows to rescue the prizes and find out why Sam wants to sabotage the reading program. Interest level is older preschool to upper grade school.
A western setting can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. A solid color sheet can be turned into a western setting by adding props such as tumbleweeds or cactus; background animals; cardboard fences, rope, anything with a western look. When doing Internet subject searches for puppet backdrops, you can find patterns for western towns available.
There are also school puppet backdrop kits available that could be adapted to reflect a library setting, or you can use the same solid color as the outdoor scene and change the props to reflect an indoor library setting such as: bookshelves drawn on cardboard, a small toy or cardboard desk, cardboard books, book covers, or even placing a few actual books on the side of the stage. Draw an open window that Sam has escaped from. A square of a different color will do; add a frilly cloth for a curtain if you wish.
Give your puppets a western look by adding bandanas, cowboy hats, and other western attire. Cowboy and Cowgirl puppets, and western clothing for puppets are available from many puppet manufacturers, or look for toddler clothes to fit larger puppets.
(Characters can be people puppets or used with animals puppets)
- The play can be performed with 2 people.
- Leona Lou - western dress
- Sidewinder Sam - dressed in black, with a red bandana or however you wish. (Change his description in the script to reflect a change in dress)
- Miss Pages - The town librarian.
- (Optional) Puppet or stick horse
Backdrop for scene 1 and 3 (Prairie, or Western town)
Backdrop for library
Rope to tie up Sam
Summer Reading Certificate
Western attire for Leona and Sidewinder
Prairie or western town
Scene 1: Prairie or western town background(Enters Leona Lou)
Leona: (To audience) Howdy, ya’ll! My name is Leona Lou. I am the toughest cowgirl in Tumbleweed Gulch Elementary School. I can outrun, outfight, out swim, outtalk, and outread any kid in Texas.
Voice: (From off stage) Outread? Whatcha mean?
Leona: (Looks around) Who said that?
Sam: (Enters) I did.
Leona: Who are ya?
Sam: I’m new in town. Just rode in this here morning. Name’s Sidewinder Sam.
Leona: How come you’re named after a snake?
Sam: Don’t know. Guess my Ma liked snakes. Who are you?
Leona: I’m Leona Lou. I’m the toughest cowgirl in Tumbleweed Gulch Elementary School. I can outrun, outfight, outswim, outtalk, and outread any kid in Texas.
Sam: Whatcha mean outread everyone? How ya do that? Ya can’t win a race like when you show whose tha fastest. How ya gonna show ya the best reader?
Leona: Simple. Now that school is out, the Tumbleweed Gulch Library will start their summer reading program like they do every summer. I’m gonna read so fast and so much that I’ll be the first critter to get ma Reading Certificate and the first to get all the prizes they give out.
Sam: Prizes! What prizes?
Leona: Prizes fer reading. Ya get really cool prizes for just reading and a certificate too. The more ya read, the more prizes ya get.
Sam: So to get them thar’ prizes at the Library, ya got ta read?
Leona: Yep! That’s all there is to it. Ya just gotta read.
Sam: Can ya get them thar’ prizes any other way?
Leona: Nope, ya don’t have to do anything else ta get them but read. That’s all there is to it. Great, huh?
Sam: (In a sarcastic tone) Oh ya! Great! Really great!
Leona: Well, I’m off to check out the highest stack of books that anyone ever carried out of that thar’ library.
Sam: Yeah, sure.
Leona: See ya at the library. (Exits)
Sam: See ya. (To the audience) Just think, all them prizes, just sitting thar’, and nobody can get them except by reading. Well, they don’t call me Sidewinder Sam for nothing. I’m the meanest, orneriest kid in Texas. An’ I’m dishonest too. They’ve kicked me out of every elementary school I’ve been to. I’m gonna steal all them there prizes just for me. Hahahah. (Evil laugh, then exits)
Scene 2: Library
Leona: (Enters library) Miss Pages! It’s Leona Lou.
Miss Pages: (Enters room) Oh dear! Oh dear!
Leona: Why, whatever is the matter, Miss Pages?
Miss Pages: Oh, Leona Lou, it’s just awful. The prizes for the summer reading club have been stolen!
Leona: Stolen? What happened?
Miss Pages: Well, I was in the back room sorting the prizes which had just arrived in the mail. I decided to make myself a cup of tea, and when I returned, the window was opened and the prizes were gone.
Leona: Oh, that’s awful! What could have happened to ’em?
Miss Pages: I ran to look out the window and I saw a cowboy, dressed in black with a red bandana, riding into sunset carrying a big sack slung over his shoulder. There was no one else around. It must have been him.
Leona: Well, I know that thar’ cowboy, I met him earlier today. His name is Sidewinder Sam. How could he do such a terrible thing?
Miss Pages: The library is full of people needing my help. I just can’t close the library to go look for him. But if I don’t there will be no prizes to give the children for the summer reading club. Why, he even took the certificates!
Leona: Don’t you worry, Miss Pages. I will find Sidewinder Sam and get those prizes back for the summer reading club.
Miss Pages: Can you really do that, Leona Lou?
Leona: Of course I can. I am the toughest cowgirl in Tumbleweed Gulch Elementary School. I can outrun, outfight, outswim, outtalk, and outread any kid in Texas. I will not return without those prizes!
Miss Pages: Oh, thank you so much, Leona Lou! Be careful. (Exits)
Leona: I’ll call my trusted steed and start huntin’ for Sidewinder Sam right away! (Shouting) Dandelion!
(From offstage the sound of a horse neighing)
Leona: I’ll find Sidewinder Sam and return them thar’ stolen prizes, no matter what it takes! (Exits).
(Optional: Play Rossini's ''William Tell Overture,” the theme song from Lone Ranger television show, and have Leona ride across the stage slowly on a horse puppet or stick horse. Or, play other classic cowboy chase music.)
Scene 3: Prairie
(From offstage the sound of a horse neighing)
Leona: (From offstage) Whoa, Dandelion, whoa! (More neighing)
Leona: (enters and talks to audience) I’ve looked high and low for that Sidewinder Sam. No one has seen him in a coon’s age. I wonder if he could be hiding out in that thar’ cave. (Points)
Leona: (Shouting) Sidewinder Sam!
Sam: (From off stage) I ain’t here!
Leona: (Looks at audience, and then back at cave) Come out of there, Sam, I know you’re there!
Sam: (From off stage) I said, I ain’t here!
Leona: I’m gonna come in and drag you out, Sam.
Sam: Oh all right! (Enters) Okay, whatcha want?
Leona: I have come to take back the prizes you stole from the library.
Sam: They are all my prizes now. (Evil laugh) Ya’ll will never get ’em back.
Leona: We’ll see about that!
(The two puppets struggle together as if in a fight, for a moment, then they both fall down off the stage. Scuffling noise as if fighting heard from off stage. Leona comes back up holding the end of a rope. Sam comes back up tied up with a rope)
Leona: Okay, Sam, I have ya now. Are the prizes in the cave?
Sam: Yea, they are. But ya can’t have ’em back.
Leona: Why would ya want to take all them prizes for yerself?
Sam: Because I’ll never get any, if I don’t steal ’em. I can’t read.
Leona: You can’t read! Well, why didn’t you say so? I’ll teach ya to read, Sam, and then you can win your own prizes.
Sam: You’d do that fer me?
Leona: Sure. I’m not only the best reader in Texas, I’m the best reading tutor too. I help all the little kids in ma school. We’ll have you reading in no time. Just help me carry all these prizes back to Miss Pages, and we’ll get started right away. (Exits)
Sam: (Still tied up, he looks off stage, then to audience, then back off stage) Hey! Wait! (Looks back at audience and then offstage again) Leona Lou! Ya forgot something! (Pauses a second) Hey! Come back and untie me! Leona! Wait! (Exits stage as if he is hopping)
Scene 4: Library
(Miss Pages and Sam Enter)
Miss Pages: (Holding a reading certificate with Sam’s name on it) Sam, I am very proud to present you with your first Summer Reading Club Certificate. Well done!
Sam: Thank you, Miss Pages.
Miss Pages: Well, back to work. The library is very busy you know. (Exits)
Leona: (Enters) Well, Sam, ya did it!
Sam: Thanks to you, Leona, I can finally read and get ma own prizes. I’ll never steal again.
Leona: Twern’t nuttin’, Sam. Come on, let’s see who can check out the biggest stack of books. I’ll bet it’ll be me!
Sam: Let’s go, Leona, lets go! (To audience) I just love ta read!