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Gales of Laughter When Big Ryan Returns to Bellingham Library

Aug 30, 2018 06:00AM ● By Marjorie Turner Hollman
story & photo by Marjorie Turner Hollman, Contributing Writer

Storyteller Ryan Racette—“Big Ryan”—visited the Bellingham Public Library August 3 and was greeted with open arms by parents and children alike.

It’s been a few years since he last visited Bellingham, but his stories and puppetry antics, along with his skill at juggling and getting kids moving, were right in line with the summer reading theme, “Libraries Rock!”

Indeed, to break up the program’s pacing, after kids had listened to one of his fanciful stories, he invited the crowd (and there was a large crowd for the event) to stand up. He then proceeded to lead the group in a classic “get out the wiggles” activity and had children and adults alike dancing and giggling.


Big Ryan’s height and size belie the gentleness with which he addresses the children. His humor is always self-effacing, kind, silly, and easy to relate to. His pair of puppets struggle mightily, one attempting to teach the other to say, “Ready, set, go,” to start a race. As many of us know, this concept can be tough for young children to comprehend.

There was a similar, silly dynamic in the efforts of one puppet to teach the other a knock-knock joke that had children rolling on the floor laughing. Big Ryan’s puppets are a delightful mirror of how parents and children interact. The audience, including the parents, got a huge kick out of the puppets’ frustrations.

The puppet that took the parent’s role became more and more frustrated, to the delight of the children. The puppet that was the more childlike character took every instruction literally, creating somewhat predictable, but still very funny, results.

Big Ryan’s skill at juggling was impressive. It might not have been obvious, but to be playful while juggling, taking the role of jester, is actually quite challenging and requires a greater degree of skill and concentration than what is required to simply juggle.

While it appeared that the balls had minds of their own, Ryan kept them in the air in an impressive display of juggling. His antics with the balls kept the children giggling.

On a hot summer’s day, talk of Popsicles was welcome, and Big Ryan elicited lots of fun and silly flavors from the crowd. Those who had not gotten the chance to offer their idea for a crazy or tasty Popsicle flavor were anxious to share their thoughts with Ryan afterwards.

He took the time to concentrate on each child in turn, providing a satisfying end to a rocking good program. For more information about Big Ryan’s Tall Tales, visit






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