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Hand. Shadow. Rod.

Hand, Shadow, Rod. The Story of Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre | Monica Leo | Isbn 9781948509466 | 244 pages | $21.95 | Just out!

Since 1974, Eulenspiegel has toured in thirty-one states and four countries around the world. All along establishing and maintaining an internationally known puppetry center in West Liberty, Iowa. Hand. Shadow, Rod traces the theatre’s history and explores the relationship between work and play, between loss and recovery, and between puppets and puppeteers. It also reflects, first hand, on life and culture between the late 1970s and the present day.

Praise For Hand, Shadow, Rod.

“Hand, Shadow, Rod. is a memoir that manages to be almost entirely “un-self-centered”—much like the author herself. Monica Leo is an artist who has always seen the value of collaboration, and in telling the story of her Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre (still going strong some fifty years on). We learn as much about the people she worked with and for as we do about her. Anyone who loves puppets, whether from behind the booth or from out in the audience, will delight in the account of this plucky little troupe from the American Heartland. But there is so much more to it than that. This is an immigrant story, a story of love and loss, of deep friendships and grit and always finding ways to move forward and find the good in life. I’ve known Monica for fifty years. To my wife and me, she has been a colleague, a presenter, a collaborator, and a dear friend, but I learned new things about her in every single chapter, not least of which is that she is also a very fine writer. In Hand. Shadow. Rod. She has created a chronicle that will have an honored place on my bookshelf next to the finest examples of puppet memoir Forman Brown’s Punch’s Progress and Sergei Obraztsov’s My Profession.”
Andrew Periale, editor of Puppetry International magazine

“To nurture and sustain Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre for nearly fifty years there needs to be creativity, resilience, and optimism. Monica Leo has these qualities and more. This book is a unique and engaging chronicle of the twists and turns of running a puppet company and a puppet theatre, all intertwined with Leo’s journey as a person and an artist and portraits of the many collaborators, partners, and friends she joyously worked with along the way.”
Steve Abrams, Puppetry Journal

“In Hand, Shadow, Rod: The Story of Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre, Monica Leo shares with readers the richness of her long creative life; from her earliest days listening to her immigrant father’s tales of his imaginary friend, to her travels with her puppet partner, Terry Jean Brietbach, and later, a cast of other puppeteers and musicians. This delightful memoir is packed with historical details, charming anecdotes, fascinating characters, and poignant memories. A perfect read for puppet fans, Iowa history buffs, artists, and those who love a good story.”
Michelle Edwards, artist and Charlotte Zolotow Award-winning author of Me And The Boss

“What a thrill to see Monica Leo’s story Hand, Shadow, Rod between the covers of this memoir! Like one of the characters in her fairy tales, Leo takes the reader on an enchanting world tour of Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre Company performances. With beautifully written prose and masterfully crafted block prints, Leo is the trickster in this narrative. A highly recognized puppeteer, partner, teacher, and mentor, Leo models not only artistry but entrepreneurship. You will delight in her story, how she founded her troupe and has kept it flourishing for fifty years. A book every aspiring artist should read.”
Mary Swander, author of Squatters on Red Earth


Monica Leo is a first-generation American, born to German refugees in the waning days of World War Two. After the war, her parents ordered a set of Kasperle hand puppets from a German craftswoman, and Monica was hooked. Since 1975, she has been creating and performing as founder and principal puppeteer of Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre, which has been a featured performer at numerous national and regional Puppeteers of America festivals, as well as national and international festivals in Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, and Japan. Eulenspiegel’s home is Owl Glass Puppetry Center, a tiny center in the small town of West Liberty, Iowa. Monica also creates block prints and writes the “Scene Between” column for The Puppetry Journal. She lives in a log cabin in the woods in rural Iowa City, built by her late carpenter husband, John Jenks.