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Tips & Tricks
Storybook Character Costume Bookings - Updated 07/01/2006

E-mail received from Marian (the Librarian) Dewey at the Hometown PL:

Omagosh!!! You'll never guess what happened!!! I was standing in the library this morning and, of all people, "Winnie the Pooh," walked up and politely asked the way to the children's books. Next thing you know, "Miss Frissle" and "Liz" will show up on the "Magic School Bus" looking for "Waldo." I gotta cut back on the coffee!
Marian.

Marian wasn't suffering from caffeine overdose when she sent this e-mail. As it happened, someone at Hometown PL had the brilliant idea to book "Pooh Bear" into the library to promote the children's section. Kids and parents came from far and wide to meet "Winnie" and the children's books flew from the shelves like "Stellaluna" at sunset.

With a little planning (and a phone call or two) you can bring these characters to your library by booking a literary character costume. The costs vary from (almost) free to "not very expensive" and the rewards can be immense. It's a great way to bring your library to the attention of parents and kids in your area — and since the characters come as costumes only (without operator inside) its a great way for a librarian or volunteer to have a grand time "play-acting" as a popular character for local children.

Tips & Tricks for Arranging Children's Literary Character Visits:

  • Most costumes are provided free of charge by the publishers for promotional use only. You pay the shipping, costs varying according to shipper—figure about $10.- $120.
  • Call for costume availability, some costumes are booked over a year in advance.
  • Book costumes from weekend to weekend, that way several area libraries can share the shipping costs. $30 when split 3 ways. More libraries even less!
  • During the week the character could play "library ambassador" and visit a several local schools.
  • Just think how much use a local school district could get in a week!
  • Most suppliers are even willing to ship to one school/library address, arrange for the pick-up at another address, and bill a third address. Great if you have a inter-library loan truck, school district truck. or friends.
  • These shipping crates are big, about the size of a phone booth or smaller.
  • Try sharing with a local bookseller to host your character. In some cases you will pick-up and have shipped out from your library. One bookseller I interviewed said she would have no problem sharing a costume during the one week visiting period. Some characters are for TRADE ONLY, so you will need to network with a bookseller.
  • The press LOVES a "hook!" Have a theme for the next Friends of the Library Bargain Book Sale. A very special guest on Saturday near the children's book table could be just the draw for attracting younger buyers, potential new members and volunteers. Promote in advance!
  • Holiday Tea Time with Peter Rabbit or Winnie the Pooh or anytime!
  • Summer Reading storybook characters to go with your theme.
  • Friends and a special character could visit hospitals as "library ambassadors" taking books for the children's library.
  • Make a deal with the local shopping center or mall for a table one weekend. Issue library cards for Library Card Month, National Library Week, Children's Book Week. Get them to underwrite the shipping.
  • Remember costumed characters may need a special assistant to help handling groups, reading stories, help seeing little raised hands and answering questions.
  • An operator must have a capacity for pantomime as characters don't talk and be a good "mover". A love of kids and the knowledge to deal with them is also essential.
  • Practice and experiment in front of a mirror in full costume. If you want to engage someone else, watch them in action in costume first to see if they know how to bring your character to life.
  • If an amateur is unused to a heavy costume, he or she may have to be reminded to "drink plenty of water". Which then creates another problem. The costumed performers must be able to take breaks.
  • Check with the publisher they may have activities event kits and program materials. Some have goodies that you can print out from their web site, ideas, recipes, songs and etc. You can get this sent out at least a month in advance. Confirm quantities.

Resources:

COSTUME SPECIALISTS

211 North Fifth Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Phone 800-596-9357
fax (614)464-2114

Ask for KIm or Jay.

Costumes are provided free of charge by the publishers for promotional use only. The only cost to you is shipping to send the costume to its next event.

To schedule a costume, simply call COSTUME SPECIALISTS with an idea of what chatacters you prefer on specfic dates. Typical reversations are Thursday to the following Monday. Longer reservations can be arranged for multiple locations and special events when requested. Some costumes are booked over a year in advance so book early.

COSTUME SPECIALISTS has a huge computerize database and can tell you where ANY literary costume is booked in the USA.. Publisher's costumes currently available carried by COSTUME SPECIALISTS at www.cospec.com/childrens_book_characters.html


Candlewick Press
Erin Postl
617-661-3330
  • Waldo

Librarians are invited to help celebrate WALDO's 10th Anniversary by hosting a local WALDO Event. Candlewick Press will provide a WALDO Event Kit, including a WALDO costume (returnable), tatoos, bookmarks, figurine, coloring sheets, and planning tools. Call to schedule a reservation.


Scholastic - Libraries
Jacky Wilson
1-800-560-3291

Use of Clifford is free. You pay for local dry cleaning and return shipping via UPS. He's light so figure about $10 for the UPS charges.

Clifford & Berenstain Bears photos: Idaho State University Book Store

  • Clifford, the Big Red Dog

Scholastic - Trade ONLY
Jaclin Wilson
1-800-560-3291

Free to Bookstores ONLY with a Scholastic TRADE Account. You would need to collaborate with a local bookshop. Ask about shipping charges.

Scholastic Productions
The Traveling "The Magic School Bus"
Broadway, New York, NY 10012-399
or call (212)-343-7573

  • The Magic School Bus, Scholastic's The Magic School Bus Live Hits the Road: Local itineraries for the traveling "Magic School Bus", the traveling "Sound" Show and "The Magic School Bus" Museum Exhibits can be found directly at The Magic School Bus Fun Pce. Information updated regularly.



Little, Brown and Company - Libraries
Boston
Jamie Cohen
Phone: 212-794-9220

First come first serve. They have several Arthurs so he can make the rounds. You may book up to 1 year in advance. Free you pay shipping.

  • Arthur, Public Television's newest star! Special ARTHUR events are in the works across the US. Find the city near you.

    Hands-on activities in a wide range of subject areas for use with second-grade students. These activities can also be adapted for use with older and younger children. Since a primary focus of ARTHUR is to encourage a love of reading and writing, each activity includes a literacy component and recommended readings that relate to the theme of the activity. WGBH will post new four activities every other month from October through June 1998, so be sure to check in again for more creative, educational ideas that your children will enjoy.

Little, Brown and Company - Trade ONLY
Boston
Kerry Goddard
Phone: 617-263-2813
  • Arthur,
  • D. W. Arthur's Little Sister
  • Slobosauras
  • Glad Monster-Happy Monster, Ed Emberley's book about feelings. This character has Velcro face features that can be changed.

Cat-alog: A fun selection of Dr. Seuss accessories
Call 24-hour toll free at 1(800) 541-8446 to order.
  • BUY your very own costume of B>The Cat in the Hat from the Dr. Seuss Books: $39.95 each, plus $5.00 shipping and handling. Then Celebrate Read Across America.



photo: Idaho State University Book Store
Random House - TRADE ONLY
Nancy Storey, Costume rental coordiator
Phone: 1-800-733-3000
or contact your local sales rep

Mother Goose Society
Performers Contact Information: The best listing of Mother Goose Storytellers online.




photo: Idaho State University Book Store

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