Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Learning Feelings with Felt


AZLE — Instead of driving her crazy, Maricela Carelock says she let her children drive her creative. Kids at Azle Memorial Library took part in that creativity by learning through song and dance with the Maricela and Friends puppet show the morning of June 11.

Since she was a teenager, Carelock, now a mother of eight and grandmother of nine, has loved singing and songwriting. After having children, she said these skills became a fun way to get her kids to listen. It wasn’t long before she began to incorporate characters which she fleshed out in felt.

Born in Costa Rica where she later worked as a teacher, Carelock moved to the United States in 1989 after marrying an American. For the last 30 years, she homeschooled seven of her children using songwriting and ventriloquism as an educational aid. It was her oldest — now 31 — son who encouraged her to continue her craft after her children had grown. She soon began to take her puppets on the road to local churches, then birthday parties, libraries and even, in one instance, put the “fun” in “funeral” after a request from a beloved departed friend.

“I’ve always been a silly mom and now I’m a silly grandmother,” Carelock said. “I’m a kid in an old lady’s body.”

Through her puppets, over 100 backdrops and a trunk full of costumes, Carelock said her mission is to teach love, obedience and humility to children. During her show at AML, Carelock and her puppet crew sang songs about being kind to others, respecting the environment and doing the right thing when no one is watching. Along with life lessons, Carelock also tackled grammar, describing the difference between nouns and adjectives in both English and Spanish.

“It’s not a job. I’m a Christian so I feel like it’s a mission and that’s what I want to keep doing until I can’t anymore,” Carelock said. “We try to bring the kids into a deeper knowledge of themselves so that they have a lot of kindness.”

The benefit of using puppets, Carelock said, is that they’re much easier to train than children. With her puppets, Carelock had children and parents singing along, dancing and volunteering in her act with costumes and props.

AML Children’s Librarian Ava Bryant knew Carelock from a show she had done at her previous position in the Decatur Library and was excited to introduce her to Azle.

“I wasn’t expecting everybody to have to dress up like an astronaut,” Bryant said laughing. “Maricela’s Puppet Show is geared more towards a younger audience, so I’m glad we were able to have something for them.”

Bryant said shows like Carelock’s are important tools in building imagination, creativity and stimulating children’s minds through play.

“The singing and music that she does is very important for kids because music is a form of literacy, and it helps to build those foundational skills that we need to learn to read later. I also appreciated her kindness message … I think that’s really important for young kids, too.”