Hand and Rod Puppets

Hand and Rod Puppets coverHand and Rod Puppets: A Handbook of Technique
translated by Susanne Forster

Submitter: This was in the children’s section. I hate to say “just look at it” but… yeah. It’s ugly as sin, it’s pointless, and I’m pretty sure that if it could talk, it would tell me stories about paying ten cents for ice cream cones. I don’t doubt Mr. Fettig’s technique, but I do doubt any kid is gonna walk in and ask about dirty, old books about creepy puppets. I am going to keep it for my personal collection, though. I feel sorry for it. ‘Twas part of a public library’s collection.

Holly: If you type “making puppets” into Amazon, there are all kinds of glossy, full-color books for under $20. I can’t imagine why there are so many of these old black and white puppet books from the 1970s lingering on library shelves. The art and craft of puppet making is still relevant, and should not be lost forever, but keeping books from the 1970s on the subject doesn’t entice anyone to want to learn about it. For the love of Dewey, update!

Ship captain puppet

Elderly people puppets

Working the puppet

Girl and dog puppet


  1. As is the case with many subjects, the publishing date has little to do with the quality of information held within. As a fairly dead art, there are few books of quality available to a puppeteer. This book is one of the very few that offers something more than instructions on how to make a hand puppet out of popsicle sticks and repression. The mechanisms Mr. Fettig illustrates in this book are excellent, at times innovative, and always capable of lovely movement.

  2. I agree with Eli except the comment about puppetry being a dead art! To the contrary,,Puppetry as well as Ventriloquism are thriving !

    1. Apologies, Linda. I should not have called it dead without an explanation (which would take far too much space for this comment thread), but please know that my perspective comes from a place of respect.

      1. Puppetry is very far from dead! Puppeteers of America will be meeting in July at a Festival to watch and workshop and eat, sleep and breathe puppets for several days. Do also Google puppeteers such as Ronnie Burkett, Berndt Ogrodnik, Philip Huber, Hobey Ford, Heidi Rugg, Seth Nehemiah Shaffer to name a few active participants of all ages. Also refer to Lion King, Warhorse, Avenue Q and Hand to God as award winning entertainments that made their fame through the use of puppets. Just for a start.Look around and ENJOY!

  3. As a puppeteer, id love to buy this book off the submitter and actually cherish it, how about it?

  4. This book is impossible to find and purchase as it is sadly out of print. It happens to have the most beautifully designed mechanisms for both simple & complex movement and is a tome of genius for any puppet-builder wanting to increase their skill level beyond elementary school craft. The Toronto Public Library at the Lillian H. Smith location had two copies but in the last year the entire puppetry section has been endangered and hopefully has been transferred to the main reference library intact. Otherwise a major resource to the ancient tradition of puppetry has been foolishly lost through ignorance (which if done by a library with such a level of disregard it is indeed a travesty and a statement toward the spiral downward into illiteracy and general malaise of the human race.) The fact that a “trained librarian” put it into the children’s section is an indication of the lack of care that was put into that particular library.

  5. This book is the holy bible for many professional puppeteers. It should be kept in the library but not in the children’s section. It is hard to find and sought after. Please keep it in the library collection. People pay upwards of $500 to buy copies, but please don’t you think of selling it. It belongs in a library.

    1. I agree. None of the libraries I have explored have a copy. I would love to see the book, and not have to spend $$$$$

  6. Ladies your ignorance is showing. Any kid who is interested in puppetry will soon discover a lack of good informational books out there that include great diagrams and examples of how to make puppets. So when that child comes across this book in his or her local library, it will be a gem. I wonder what other gems you have thrown away simply because they weren’t “new”?

  7. This book is a translation from German and it sits on most library shelves – those fortunate enough to have a copy – because it was produced as a limited print run, is decades out print and one of the most hard to find and revered puppetry texts available in English. When you can find a copy online, they usually sell for hundreds of dollars. It’s considered a foundational text…one of those books you really want on your shelf if you care or actually know something about its subject (apparently not the case here). If you don’t want a copy, just about any puppeteer – or enterprising book seller for that matter – will happily take a copy off your hands.

    Look, I get it, you’re having a bit of fun with old library books, fine. Just please take a few minutes to Google a book before you dismiss it with a clueless review. Librarians are supposed to do research and have accurate knowledge, no?

  8. Wow. You just trashed one of the most sought after books for serious/professional puppetry artists. This book regularly sells for over $100 on eBay and through private sellers. Do you really think slick, glossy photos make a good book?

    Hansjurgen Fettig was a master puppet builder. I agree that the book does not belong in the children’s section. That is a filing error on the part of the library.

  9. Fettig’s books are classics in the puppetry world concerning puppet mechanisms and design. They were never intended for children. Even today they are inspiring exploration and experimentation by masters in the craft, through The Fettig Project. “You know not of which you speak.” See also Ellen Rixford’s latest book.(it does have lovely photos.)

  10. While placing it in the children’s section is tragic, this is actually one of the most sought after books in puppet building (look for copies on ebay and amazon). In some ways it’s the equivalent of a book of chords for guitar players; a reference for ways to solve the technical problems encountered when trying to build puppets.

    I’m sure you’ll hear from many other puppeteers as well (many have Google alerts on this book it’s so tough to find at a reasonable price). While there are a number of books that fit your concerns about their methods/age, this one is a bit of a special case.

  11. Hello! My name is Paul Spirito. I work at the University of Connecticut in the Puppet Arts Program. This posting saddens me deeply. Puppetry is alive and well in America and thriving throughout the world. The saddest part is that a librarian mistakenly put it in the children’s section. This is a very important book in the world of puppetry and if you’ll take the time to look it up, you’ll find that it is valued between $450-$2000 https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0823801403/ref=tmm_hrd_used_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=used&qid=&sr= Most puppeteers would give their right hand for this book. If you don’t want it please consider mailing it to me.

  12. No one (especially librarians) believes this book is “awful” in every context. When we are talking about weeding, we are asking if a particular book is serving the needs of the people who use the library, in this case a public library. A book in the children’s section on puppets should be appropriate to that age group and need. Weeding could mean moving it to a more appropriate place in the library. Based on what has been discussed here, I would move this into an archive, where it can be preserved. Rare books or specialty items do not belong in a public library as they would end up damaged or “loved to death.”

  13. Please tell your “submitter” that I will gladly take that dirty, creepy old book off her hands. I’ll pay $20 for it and pay for shipping.

  14. Please release this marvelous book to its appreciating audience! There are many people seeking it who will use it well. Thanks!

  15. This is one of the most ignorant reviews I have read. To think that a librarian wrote it, appals me. This is a valuable book for a puppeteer to have. I have this book, I also have the updated version published by Ray Da Silva. The British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild wanted to post a comment, but the site would not allow their email address.

    1. First, my apologies if you have misunderstood or consider what we are talking about on this site as a review on the intrinsic value of this book. I am glad that many of the puppet artists have commented on the value of this book. I doubt any public librarian, unless he/she had an specific interest in puppetry would be qualified to comment on the contents. The job of the public librarian is to connect patrons with information and our focus is on the general public. Patrons that need deeper research or more specific materials will be referred to larger collections though a system of inter-library loan (ILL).
      Even after reading the comments of puppet artists on this site, I think all of us would agree this book really doesn’t belong in a youth collection.Both the reading level and complexity of the art make this book a poor choice for elementary aged children. At a minimum, this should have been located in an adult collection. Clearly, this is an important work in the eyes of puppet artists and of course it should be in a collection, especially in one focused on the arts. Larger public libraries have more leeway, but an average sized or small public library cannot usually accommodate specialty items. Most librarians do have criteria and strict standards when it comes to selection and de-selection of the collections. I would also point out that the submitter is talking about a specific collection in a specific community. No two libraries will have the same objectives or specialties.

      1. TL;DR “i made a snarky post and people called me on it. Here’s my half-assed apology, which isn’t really an apology.”

        Seriously, think before you post. All you are doing is making yourself look like a very ignorant person, as well as an embarrassment to all librarians everyewhere. Why don’t you post what library you are employed at? Maybe they wouldn’t be too pleased with the drivel you are posting? Certainly you deserve to be fired from whatever position you hold, because you attitude is complete shit.

        1. Dood. Maybe if you did a little research on what this site is for and read a little more about the creators and curators, you’d know what libraries they work for and the whole point of this blog. But thanks for (apparently) being too ignorant to practice what you’re preaching. Go play with your puppets.
          (Disclaimer: I’m a puppeteer with several decades of experience, and also a public librarian who would pitch this book into a burning pyre if I found it in my building.)

  16. It was at a small public library back in 1954 in East Rutherford, NJ, that I took out my first books on puppetry. There was no children’s section, and by third grade, I had the run of the library. I took the puppet books out over and over,. (M. Batchelder and Mills & Dunn.), as well as many others. I pored over them, in spite of their dense text and only B&W sketches and diagrams. I know I can thank Memorial Library and the kind librarians for my love of books and reading; AND my lifelong passion and avocation of puppetry. Of course, these books are now in my personal library, bought second hand.

  17. I want to thank everyone here for leaving these replies. You’ve all taught me an important lesson about looking up information on books as you weed. I’m only an intern, but I will talk with my supervisor about getting this book into either the adult nonfiction section or archive. Again, thank you all very much.

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