Betty as Laura Ingalls Wilder

The following are suggestions and ideas. Betty's large repertoire of stories and songs can be adapted for all kinds of audiences.*

for pre-schoolers and up...

The Tailor and Other Stories (pre-school - grade 2)
The tailor makes a coat, which wears out. So he makes a short jacket... which he cuts down to a hat and then a button, and finally (when it's all worn out,) it becomes a story. Based on an old Yiddish song, this story also appears in several picture books, including Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, by Simms Taback, which won the Caldecott award. The program consists of four or five stories and songs and is very participatory, giving the children chances to sing, use hand signs, repeat key phrases, and become characters in the tales. Also includes Susie and the Alligator, a song about a brave little girl who finds an alligator under her bed, and How Could Anything Be Worse, a folktale about a loud family which learns to appreciate what they have.
40-45 minutes.

for elementary ages...
Chrysanthemum and Other Picture Book Tales (grades K-2)

From the book by award-winner Kevin Henkes. Chrysanthemum loves her name... until she starts school. This classic tale of teasing and acceptance is told with humor and lots of participation. Hearing the story encourages beginning readers to pick up the book - and experience it in a different, more meaningful way. Other picture book tales include The Wolf's Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza, The Tailor, (available in two picture books: Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman and Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, by Simms Taback), and How Could Anything Be Worse, available as It Could Always Be Worse by Margot Zemach. Betty brings a copy of each of the books so that children see that books really can come alive.
40-50 minutes.

Concoction and Other Tales (K-6)
Megan mixes a concoction and turns her brother into a dinosaur! Now she must turn him back... This original fantasy involves the audience in helping out the main character, remembering details and sequences. Children often ask whether it's a true story - and want to make a concoction, themselves. The program also includes songs such as Bill Harley's Is Not, Is Too! (a classic story-song about two siblings) and the Inuit folktale, Raven and the Kewak Bird. Round out the show with selected stories from Japanese, Irish, Australian, Jewish or other traditions.
45-55 minutes.

Mrs. Katz and Tush and Other Multicultural Tales (grades 2-6)
The elderly, Jewish, Mrs. Katz is so lonely when her husband dies... until Larnel, her young black neighbor, brings her a kitten. She has no tail, "all you see is her tush," so they name her Tush. Larnel and Mrs. Katz become friends; in time, Larnel, Mrs. Katz, Tush and her descendents all become family to one another. This truly moving, multicultural American story is by beloved author Patricia Polacco. The program includes three or four additional stories from a variety of cultures, perhaps including Japanese, Irish, Australian, Jewish, or Native American tales. Participation, songs, and silliness complete the event. Library and other non-school shows may also include the song "Dreams of Harmony" sung as a multicultural duet with nine-year-old Laura Schwartz.
45-55 minutes.

The Graveyard Voice & Other (Slightly) Scary Stories (grades K-6)
Everyone loves scary stories, but young ones don't really want to be scared... and older kids love gore! Let Betty design a program just frightening enough for your group, perhaps including The Graveyard Voice (a scary tale which turns out silly in the end.) Other pieces may include seriously scary favorites such as Mary Culhane and the Spirit Man, an Irish story; The Girl Who Married a Ghost, a Native American tale; The Golden Arm, a classic American tale; songs of monsters and werewolves, and more.
45-55 minutes.

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House Stories (grades K-6)
Betty presents one of our most beloved literary heroines, Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House in the Big Woods and eight other historical novels of pioneering in the American West. Six students meet with Betty ahead of time, putting on costumes and learning games which Laura played as a child. When the audience arrives, Betty introduces them to Mrs. Wilder and her books, with the use of music, photos, and carefully chosen props. She then becomes Mrs. Wilder herself, narrating in character how the Ingalls family left the safety of Wisconsin to find joy and near-tragedy in establishing their homestead in Minnesota, and later in South Dakota. Audiences experience Laura's world, where hardships are endured, nature is embraced and family is treasured. At the end of the presentation, the chosen students demonstrate games and activities mentioned in the show. Teacher information packet included.
45-60 minutes.
For more information, visit these terrific websites:
For those who had read and loved the books, it was as if an old friend had entered the room. And those who had not yet connected with them were eager to begin reading.
-Paula Sharaga, Holliston Public Library, MA

Holiday and Seasonal Shows
How do they celebrate Three Kings' Day in Cuba? How did Patricia Polacco's family help their ill neighbors in The Trees of the Dancing Goats? Have you ever heard of the Matzah Ball fairy? A Parakeet Named Dreidel? And what was that spooky voice in the graveyard? Betty's repertoire includes stories and music for Halloween, the winter holidays, spring, summer and fall... from many cultures, for ages 4 and up.
40-55 minutes.

for adults and older children...

The Blue Shawl, a Russian Memoir (grades 4 and up, adults)

Twelve-year-old Emma and her mother must cross Russia on an orphan train in the winter of 1920-1921, journeying to say goodbye to Emma's grandparents, who are leaving for America. They bring a shawl as a going-away present. But on the train, Emma's mother becomes dangerously ill and Emma must care for her. Emma finds a strength and maturity she didn't know she had. Many years later, Emma herself goes to America, and is reunited with the shawl. At the end of the show, Betty produces the real shawl which inspired the tale. Based on a true story from Betty's grandmother's memoirs. This exquisitely detailed, meticulously researched piece includes original music scored and performed live by Larry Unger on guitar and mandolin. Best for middle and high schools, Jewish adults, libraries, and others with an interest in immigration, or Russian or Jewish history. Teacher resource packet included.
70 minutes, plus Q&A.

I have never seen an audience more transfixed... We were very privileged to host such an exceptional event.
- Kitty Schacht, Librarian, Framingham Public Library, MA

Tailored to your occasion...
Betty has performed at weddings, 60th birthday parties, and other adult gatherings. Stories may be adapted from the programs listed above, original stories may be commissioned, or special programs may be arranged.

For a list of Jewish shows click here.
*Many of Betty's stories are available on her recordings.
For fee information and availability contact

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