Puppet Books, Movies and

Performance Essentials
hey, buy my books


I have a large library of puppetry books that I refer to often. The books below can be bought from the Amazon.com site. Just follow the links I've provided to read more about the book at Amazon.com and to purchase the book through Amazon.com. I own and use each and every one of these books, and I think each one would be a useful addition to any puppet builder's library. I also have some recommendations for out of print and hard to find books that aren't available through Amazon.com.

If you want to perform live puppet shows, I've listed some of the tools and equipment I use every day near the bottom of this page.

Click on the following catagories to jump to the corrosponding section.

Puppet Building Books
Production and Performance Books
Books to Inspire Your Creativity
Business Books
Movies that Spark the Imagination
Equipment for Taking the Show on the Road


Puppet Building Books
puppets and puppet theatre

Puppets and Puppet Theatre

This is a great follow up to Currell's first book, "An Introduction to Puppets and Puppet Making." He breezes over a few subjects covered in detail in his first book and expands on many areas and explores some new ones. There is a huge section on rod and marionette construction and helpful manipulation techniques are included. He wraps it all up with puppet stage design and construction as well as lighting and sound recording information. There are many, many beautiful photographs and fantastic diagrams.

David Currell Marionettes

Making and Manipulating Marionettes

I have been making and performing hand puppets and rod puppets for many years, and even though some of the first puppets I had as a child were Pelham marionettes, I still tangle my fingers in the strings too often to put them in my show. Performing a marionette (string puppet) is an art unto itself and not one I know very well, that's why I bought and am recommending David Currell's book, Making and Manipulating Marionettes.

David Currell Shadow PLay

Shadow Puppets & Shadow Play  

Like string puppets, shadow puppets are another unique art form. To put together a show play, you need to make a certain kind of puppet that moves a certain kind of way and perform them on a certain kind of stage. David Currell will explain all that and show you how to make the puppets and stage and most importantly, lighting.

Prop Builder
The Prop Builder's Molding & Casting Handbook

Thurston James' book has everything you need to know to begin making your own molds. It has in-depth coverage of every possible casting material. This book is a must for every serious puppet, prop and set builder.

Prop Builder Mask Making
The Prop Builder's Mask Making Handbook

I had the privilege of viewing one of Mr. James' workshops. He is an amazingly talented man. Thurston James' book starts off with a history of masks and then offers step-by-step instructions on a variety of different styles of masks. A must have for anyone interested in making masks or just wanting to know how they're made.

complete book of puppetry

The Complete Book of Puppetry

George Latshaw's book is a must for any serious puppeteer's library. He starts out with a history of puppetry, followed by descriptions of puppetry and acting and how similar they are. In the design section, he includes patterns for the most popular types of puppets: hand, rod and marionette. Also included is information on building stages, writing the puppet play and on performance. The section on voices is considered a must read amongst puppeteers. If you're new to puppetry, or if you want to take your performance to a more professional level, buy this book!

Puppet Mania
Puppet Mania: The World's Most Incredible Puppet Making Book Ever Made

John E. Kennedy has worked for the Jim Henson Company for many years and has taught many workshops. Now, he's put his ideas into a great book. In this book, John shows you how to make imaginative puppets with personality using easy to find and work with materials. Great for parents and teachers!

doll making
The Complete Book of Dollmaking

Yes, I know, it says "doll making," but this superb book covers many of the skills, techniques and materials needed for puppet building. From making patterns to choosing fabrics to making wigs to making armatures, this practical step by step guide is a useful tool for puppet builders. A great book that's one of my favorites.

Ed Emberley
Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals

I've had this book for got my copy of this book almost 30 years ago and it's still in print. That should tell you something about the quality of information presented here. If you think you can't draw, this book breaks down animals into simple geometric shapes, making it easy for you to translate the ideas in your head onto paper. From there, you can make a pattern (since you know the shape) and then a puppet. For starting out at patterning, this book is a must. I recommend it highly.

Costume: 1066-1990s

Many stories used in puppet shows take place in the past, with fantasy/medieval themes being very popular. I've used this book, which has illustrations of common and upper class outfits, extensively to get ideas of period costumes. Whether you want to design a costume specifically from 1422 AD or you want to pick and choose from different periods for a fantasy costume, this book will have your head spinning with ideas. I'm currently building a version of "Puss in Boots" and refer to this book constantly.

Day of the Dead


Chinese New Year

Valentine's Day



This is a great series of paper craft books from a great author, fellow puppeteer and good friend, Randel McGee. Throughout the series, Randel shows you how to create many different kinds of puppets and other craft projects using paper and scissors. For example, in the Chinese New Year book, you'll learn how to create a Chinese dragon puppet out of toilet-paper tubes. In the Halloween book, you'll learn how to make a jumping-jack scarecrow and a three-dimensional haunted house. All the books come complete with step-by-step instructions and patterns. I highly recommend this series to parents and teachers.

Production and Performance Books
Playwriting for the Puppet Theatre

Jean Mattson's book is a great introduction to writing for puppets. You can't just have them bob around going "la la la" forever; eventually they will have to say and do something interesting. I especially like how this book stresses the thought that goes into a puppet play before you even begin writing: what kind of puppets will you use, how many puppeteers will you have, what will your stage be like. I also liked the included script and manipulation charts in the back. Manipulation charts are something that performers put together for personal reference, and it's great to see examples of how to do this. If you want to write your own stories, this book will help keep you from making many of the common mistakes budding puppeteers tend to make.

Making Puppets Come Alive
Making Puppets Come Alive : How to Learn and Teach Hand Puppetry

This is simply one terrific book on how to do good puppet manipulation. The book's many pictures show you the right way and the wrong way to perform with puppets. You can have the greatest looking puppets in the world, but if they are badly performed, it's bad puppetry.

Books to Inspire Your Creativity
Modern Puppet History
Strings, Hands, Shadows: A Modern Puppet History

John Bell is one of the foremost scholars of puppetry today. His book has over one hundred pictures and describes and explains many different forms of puppetry.

Jim Henson
Jim Henson : The Works : The Art, the Magic, the Imagination

A book that will inspire you toward your own creative path.

Lion King
The Lion King: Pride Rock on Broadway

Director and designer Julie Taymor's use of puppets in the Broadway version of The Lion King has focused mainstream attention on puppetry. This book is a beautiful and fascinating look at the process of bringing the animated feature to Broadway. Beautiful pictures, wonderful puppet designs and interesting tactful commentary on Taymor's battles with Disney, who wanted a more ordinary production.

World of Dark Crystal
The World of the Dark Crystal

Brian Froud is one of my favorite artists. I had the pleasure of listening to him speak about his work and he is as interesting as his art (and I mean that in the best possible way).

Lego Crazy Contraptions

Okay, technically, this has nothing to do with puppets. But as a confirmed Lego Maniac, I think building with Lego all my life has helped me with spatial relationships and made me a mechanical and three-dimensional thinker and better puppet builder. And it's a lot of fun! So take a break and try building some of the contraptions outlined in the book. If you don't own any Lego, do not despair, all the pieces you need come with the book.

Business Books
Law & Taxes
Working For Yourself: Law & Taxes for Independent Contractors, Freelancers & Consultants

For me, being an artist means being self-employed. This book is a must for everyone who wants to be self-employed and stay on the good side of the IRS.

Small TIme Operator
Small Time Operator

A very helpful manual if you are self-employed.

Movies that Spark the Imagination
Dark Crystal
The Dark Crystal is now available on DVD (and without that horrible cartoon drawing of the characters that appeared on the previous release.) This DVD has great extras, including trailers, character drawings and profiles, the making of documentary and the isolated music score by Trevor Jones.
Dark Crystal
The Dark Crystal (Collector's Edition Boxed Set) is now available for those of you who can't get enough of the Dark Crystal. This edition is crammed with extras not previously available. A must-have for any Dark Crystal fans.
Labyrinth (Collector's Edition Boxed Set)

Like The Dark Crystal, this film looks amazing! The Labyrinth DVD includes a making of documentary. For those devoted fans, there is the collector's edition with tons more extras, including behind the scenes photos and rare character sketches by Brian Froud.
The Storyteller Collection

Some of Jim Henson's most fascinating and scariest work is found here in "The Storyteller" series. This DVD collection contains nine stories adapted by Anthony Minghella.

What The Dark Crystal does for hand puppets, Strings does for string puppets. It's great to see that in this high-tech age filled with computer generated characters, films are still being made with actual, physical materials. Wood, metal, leather and string come together in this textured story to show us that the old ways still have a place and can hold their own on the big screen. A great film for any fan of puppetry, art or film.
The Puppeteer
The Puppeteer A film by Chris Schmidt & Gary Henoch

A performer may never realize how deeply he reaches the hearts and minds of the audiences he entertains. This documentary introduces you to Igor Fokin, a talented and charming Russian immigrant puppeteer. The Puppeteer goes beyond this artist’s enchanting street performances to show how one man can touch the soul of an entire city.

Get your copy of The Puppeteer at: puppeteermovie.com

Equipment for Taking the Show on the Road

P-150 Fender P-150 Portable Sound System
Fender P-250 Portable Sound System

I've been using a Fender P-150 for years now, and I can't praise it enough. First, it looks so much more professional to set up one of these systems compared to plopping a "boom box" down in front of your stage (something I did for years). And it is so much more durable than almost any portable stereo. The speaker cabinets lock onto either side of the amplifier, making it look like a suitcase and encasing the entire unit in a plastic shell during transport. The P-150 is great for an audience up to 300 people, and the P-250 will let the back row of up to 500 people hear your show clearly. Fender offers larger and smaller systems other than the two shown here, they are bound to have one that will fit your needs.

Speaker Stands

Fender Speaker Stands

Don't put your speakers on the floor. Aside from the front row getting their ears blasted off, they will act as a sound barrier and prevent the back row from hearing your show. The best place for speakers is above your audiences' heads. And the best way to get them there is with a set of speaker stands.


Clip-on Lamp

Clip one of these to each of the speaker stands just under the speaker and you have a nice, simple set of lights for your show. I've been using a set just like this for many years now and I've been very satisfied. Two 60 watt bulbs (one in each lamp on either side of the stage) is more than enough to light a puppet theater from 3 feet away. Be sure you use the proper wattage bulb for the lamps you purchase or you show could go up in smoke.

Philips LED

Philips LED 60W Lightbulb

Have you ever seen white light used on stage? Probably not. Then why should a portable puppet stage be any different? Bright white light can make colors look washed out - they can be bright and hard on the eyes too. 60 watt is the recommended size for the clip on lamps that I use. You don't have to worry about wattage when you're using an LED bulb. These plastic lightbulbs only use 12.5 watts of power, yet they put out the same amount of light as a 60 watt incandescent bulb. Sure they're made of yellow and silver plastic, but somehow they put out a soft white light. AND... since they are made of plastic, you won't have the possibility of broken glass around children. They also do not hot like standard incandescent bulbs, so there is little chance of burning your fingers wneh putting the lights away after the show and little chance of fire too! These bulbs aren't cheap, but they are supposed to last over 20 years when used 3 hours a day. They may be the last bulbs you ever buy to light your puppet stage!

Speaker Stands

iPod Nano

Welcome to the twenty-first century. I've finally moved on from CDs to an iPod. I've had a 20 GB iPod for years that I've used in the car, and I've been really happy with it. Now I've put all of my shows onto a 2 GB iPod Nano. Just run a cord from the headphone jack on the bottom of the iPod to an input on your sound system. I got the black one because I like everything back stage to be black.

Speaker Stands

iPod Protective Skin

If you get the iPod Nano, I suggest getting a protective skin, too. The Nano is so small and thin, I'm afraid to imagine the kind if things that could happen to it back stage at a children's birthday party. This is the skin I use. It is the thickest I could find. Of course its black, I like everything back stage to be black.

This skin also comes with a belt clip. Instead of clipping it to your belt, attach the clip to the side of your sound system with some mounting tape and hang your iPod there. This'll keep it up where you can see it and off the floor where it might get stepped on.


20 Ft Extension Cord Reel

It's not easy finding enough outlets for the amp, lights, iPod and anything else you have with you. Why not bring your own extra outlets? Just plug this extension reel into one open outlet and you have four grounded outlets at your disposal. The best part is that the cord rolls up for compact storage. Not all homes have grounded outlets, keep a prong adapter handy.


Fender Passport Battery Pack and Fender Passport 12volt DC-DC Power Converter

If you would like to be completely portable, you need the Fender Battery Pack (pictured left) and you'll also need the 12volt DC-DC Converter to connect the Battery Pack to the Fender Sound System. I'm sure there's a simpler and cheaper way to do this, but Fender doesn't have one. With this set up I can now do shows on the moon, but they couldn't afford the mileage.

More Recommendations
(used and hard to find books)

Puppet Shows


Puppet Building Information
Books, Tools & Other Stuff
Puppet Gallery
Puppeteer Nick Barone