Big Ryan's Tall Tales Keep All Ages EntertainedAug 29, 2014 10:00AM ● By Marjorie Turner Hollman
Racette speaks to his young audience after the show.
story & photo by Marjorie Turner Hollman, Bulletin Contributing WriterThe summer reading program at the Bellingham Public Library has been going full-steam ahead, using the theme “Fizz-Boom-READ.” Big Ryan’s Tall Tales, one of the many programs offered during the summer break, delighted the crowd that had gathered in the Community room at the Bellingham Library just prior to Independence Day. Big Ryan—Ryan Racette—is actually pretty big, but his size did not intimidate his young audience. In fact, Big Ryan’s disarming manner, along with some goofy dog puppets, quickly won over children and parents alike.
Almost from the start, the audience was giggling at the antics of Edgar, the daffy black Labrador retriever puppet, and his uncle Charlie, a long-suffering sheep dog puppet. Edgar’s efforts to tell a knock-knock joke left parents and children alike in hysterics as Uncle Charlie tried repeatedly to coach little Edgar on the appropriate pacing of the joke. This routine clearly hit many parents’ funny bones.
Big Ryan shared a story about a young child’s becoming a big sister. He spun a fanciful tale of a neighbor who comes to admire the new baby brother, yet almost eats him. Dinosaur-shaped cookies turn the neighbor into a dinosaur herself, but the clever big sister outwits the neighbor-dinosaur and turns the dinosaur back into a little girl.
Big Ryan proved himself a seasoned entertainer by breaking up the pace of the program, offering a fun and silly wiggle break after the audience had listened to the dinosaur story. He then produced some balls and proceeded to talk about how he had learned to juggle, appearing to be an inept juggler, when in fact the tricks he performed showed that he does, indeed, know quite well how to juggle.
Ending the program with a silly chant about odd-flavored popsicles, Big Ryan then invited the children to tell him their own ideas for odd or yummy Popsicle® flavors. Running out of time, he invited the remaining children to line up to tell him their ideas for Popsicle® flavors after the show. The long line snaking in front of Big Ryan afterwards attested to his skill as a performer and to the warmth with which the children (and parents) of Bellingham embraced him.