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Hendrick Hudson Ninth-Graders Use Puppetry To Bring Literature To Life

Hendrick Hudson High School students used puppetry to bring the "Chato’s Kitchen" to live.
Hendrick Hudson High School students used puppetry to bring the "Chato’s Kitchen" to live. Photo Credit: Contributed

MONTROSE, N.Y. -- The first week in November, Jan Aiello’s ninth-grade accelerated art students at Hendrick Hudson High School used the magic of puppetry to bring to life the book "Chato’s Kitchen," by Gary Soto. 

"Chato’s Kitchen" is the story of Chato, a very cool cat (gato) who lives in East Los Angeles. When a family of mice (ratoncitos) moves in to the neighborhood, Chato’s first plan is to invite them over for dinner – as one of the menu items. But when the ratoncitos arrive accompanied by their good friend, a dog, Chato and his pal Novio Boy decide that becoming friends is not such a bad idea after all. With lively Latin music playing, all the animals enjoy dinner and dancing.

Aiello acknowledged the contribution of the Hendrick Hudson Community Educational Foundation (www.hhcef.net) in funding the project, which she said is really about “building community across language barriers and grade levels, asking high school students to work with first and second graders to break down some of those barriers.”

The performance required artistic, technical, dramatic, and musical skills from cast members, and the young student audiences were entranced by the show.

After the puppet show the high school students worked with the elementary students to craft their own clay puppets. Hendrick Hudson English Language Learners also helped provide the voices for the soundtrack. The entire show took about a year to put together. 

“One of the district’s goals is to continue building a strong sense of community throughout our five schools,” said Schools Superintendent Joseph Hochreiter, who attended the performance. “This type of cross-generational and multidisciplinary program is a perfect example of that effort.”

For a slide show of the program, click here.

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