Picture Books about Theatre and Performance
Hoffman, Mary and Caroline Birch. Amazing Grace. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1991. Grace loves to act out stories and pretend to be new people. She wants to play Peter Pan in her class play, but she’s told by her classmates that she can’t because she is black and a girl. Her mother and grandmother help her understand that she can play it anyways, and her classmates eventually agree. This is a book about determination, triumphs, and the joy of play-acting. You can read SerahRose’s full review here.
Ruzzier, Sergio. Amandina. New York: Roaring Book Press, 2008. This book follows the tale of little Amandina as she created her own play and performs it in the local empty performance hall. SerahRose’s favorite page, which she repeats to herself endlessly during every theatre season, “The theater was empty: nobody had come. Sometimes these things happen, and nobody can say why. Amandina didn’t know what to do.” What is so unusual about this story is it is NOT about stage fright or memorizing lines (which is typical theatre picture book fare); it is about the joy of creating and the joy of performing.
Tryon, Leslie. Albert’s Play. New York: Atheneum, 1992. Albert is a duck with a classroom of animals who put on a play together. We see as they build sets, make costumes, rehearse, and create signs. The drawings are delightfully detailed in terms of backstage accuracy. Their play, The Owl and the Pussy Cat, should be familiar to most readers.
Picture Books for PictureBook Plays
Krauss, Ruth and Crockett Johnson. The Happy Egg. HarperCollins, 2005. First published in 1967, we discovered this little book (it really is, literally, quite little!) when it first reappeared in 2005. It became an immediate hit with our students ranging from infants through to pre-teens. The story line and illustrations are very simple with a clear beginning, middle, and end. This is a good book for performing as a an informal group while you read or applying PictureBook plays.
Livingston, Irene and Brian Lies. Finklehopper Frog. Berkeley: Tricycle Press, 2003. Written in rhymes, Finklehopper gets himself a jogging suit and hops off to join the rest of the jogging animals. Unfortunately, he’s faced with prejudices about the right way to jog and what to wear. A picture book that can be easily adapted for the both the youngest players and the most experienced. Another crowd pleaser.
Yolen, Jane and Laurel Molk. Off We go! New York: Little, Brown & Company, 2000. Beautifully illustrated, this simple story is a good starter book for children who all want to act out the animals at the same time. You can fall into a trap, however, by asking the children to make the same rhyme or sound as indicated in the book; allow them their creative freedom within the framework of the story.
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