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IMAG0923When moving from book medium to play medium, a good adaptation is just as important as good source material. Sadly, this was not the case for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. Based on Gary D. Schmidt’s depressing Newbery honor-winning book of the same name and adapted by Cheryl L. West, Emerson Stage’s production more often than not goes through the motions of playing Lizzie Bright without actually capturing the spirit of Lizzie Bright.

As in the book, young Turner Ernest Buckminster the Third, the preacher’s boy, feels like a fish out of water when his family moves against his will from Boston to Phippsburg, Maine. Unlike the book, his family consists of just him and his strict father, a widowed minister, since Turner’s mother was written out of existence. Unable to make friends with any of the Phippsburg boys, to the town and his father’s disapproval, Turner ends up befriending Lizzie Bright, a black girl his age who can throw and hit a baseball like no other. She lives on Malaga Island, just across the bay. Unfortunately, the town leaders see Malaga as an eyesore, especially if their plans to turn Phippsburg into a vacation resort are to move ahead.

Along the way, Turner bleeds all over his starched white shirts, looks into the eye of a whale, and is drafted as punishment into reading poetry and playing hymns for Mrs. Cobb–a crotchety old woman obsessed with documenting her last words. This leads up to a scene that’s as hilarious in person as it is on the page. If only the rest of the book’s nuance was retained as well. (more…)

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Should you (or your child) need a straightforward outfit in time for Oct 31, or get invited to a fancy dress party, fear not! Beyond Harry Potter, Thing 1 and Thing 2, and Max from Where the Wild Things Are, behold Reads for Keeps’ list of easily assembled yet unique kidlit costume suggestions.

princeThe Little Prince

While the long blue coat with the red cuffs and lining is his most iconic look, the Petit Prince spends most of his time wearing a matching celadon button down shirt and flared trousers (blue hospital scrubs should do in a pinch). These he accessorizes with a red bow tie and red belt, or a yellow scarf and yellow belt. While it is helpful to have a shock of blond hair, to really convey who you are, either carry around a fox stuffed animal or a rose, and be sure to ask every grownup in sight to draw you a sheep. Let’s practice: Dessine-moi un mouton!

Bonus: if you’re going as a father/son or father/daughter team, have dad dress like an aviator, and you’ve got yourself an Antoine de Saint-Exupery!

madelineMadeline

This outfit requires a navy blue short-sleeved dress and a straw hat with a ribbon around the brim. Add the finishing touches by making a peter pan collar out of white felt and tying a red bow/cravat around your neck. The rest is all attitude. Or find eleven other girls and a schoolmarm dressed like a nun with whom to practice walking in two straight lines. (more…)

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Happy birthday to us!

Happy birthday to us!

Our blog turns three today! To celebrate, we look back at some of our favorite posts. What makes them our favorites? They’re silly, quirky, and really fun to write. Our top five, in no particular order:

1. Pet Peeves On the Loose: when we got fellow kidlit bloggers to tell us what drives them crazy. We had as much fun asking them as we did reading their responses. And of course, we weren’t shy about sharing our own.

2. For the Love of Romantic Restraint: boy protagonist meets girl protagonist. Why must sparks fly? Also–designing the flowchart made Jen cry.

3. Our Great Redwall Feast: it tastes far better than it looks, but Redwall food is best in books!

4. Daleks in the Library: Dalek doodles. Need we say more?

5. What Came From the Stars: where we argue over how to pronounce hanorah over the effective platform of google chat.

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Are we in Narnia yet?

Are we in Narnia yet?

In light of the long weekend, we decided to pack as much activity as possible into a NYC adventure. We started the day ambling around Fort Tryon Park, home of an actual fort overlooking the Hudson river. An ancillary site to the Battle of Fort Washington, the ornate lampposts put us more in a Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe mood than a Chains mindset.

We were hoping to bump into Friar Hugo and some Dibbuns.

We were hoping to bump into Friar Hugo and some Dibbuns.

Tucked inside the park is The Cloisters, an abbey-like branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Built from the stones of actual French abbeys, it’s the home to medieval art–in particular, the famous unicorn tapestries. But our favorite part of the Cloisters was the well-manicured medieval garden in the inner courtyard. With plants such as dittany and tansey, we’re sure the Redwall folks would have felt right at home there.

Monica, with her book, Africa Is My Home!

Monica, with her book, Africa Is My Home.

Next, we rushed downtown to meet Monica (Educating Alice). Having taken the most tortuous route possible, we arrived feeling as harried as the March Hare, but Monica soon put us at ease. We had a great time chatting about all things kidlit and admiring her new book, as well as her beautiful Kipling illustrations. (Did you know Monica is a really talented artist? We didn’t.)

Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay too long, because we were attempting to strike it rich at the Matilda lottery. We’ve been itching to see this musical since it opened in the West End; thanks to the recording, we know all the songs by heart. But with only twenty available tickets, luck was not a lady that night. Still, Lisa managed to snag tickets for another day, so stay tuned for her review. We ended up watching The Glass Menagerie instead, via standing room only. (There was a unicorn, though not from the tapestry.)

Because Columbus Day = library closed, we couldn’t visit The ABC of It at the New York Public Library. Ah well, until next time…

Somewhere on a show we heard that a picture tells a thousand words. So telly, if you bothered to take a look, is the equivalent, of like, lots of books!

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Now that we’ve paired authors and audiobooks, and actors and audiobooks, for one last bit of irreverent fun, we’ll let chance pair the narrator, the audiobook, and the circumstance under which it’s read. Click on our “Narrator Generator” to take it for a spin and share what you come up with!

narrator generator

A sample of some of the weirder combinations we got:

– Miss Piggy reads Chicka Chicka Boom Boom as a rousing speech to put fire into the hearts of men (a la Battle of Pelennor Fields)

– The Queen of England reads Are You My Mother? as a message to the American people

– Miss Jean Brodie reads Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Deadliest Weapon with a phony French accent

– Darth Vader reads What Came From the Stars to an enthusiastic KidLitCon audience

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In line with our Authors Doing Audiobooks post, we also brainstormed some actors we’d enjoy as narrators:

willowsJim Dale–Return to the Willows (Lisa: definitely Jim Dale. He’s awesome.)

The FitzOsbornes in Exile as a BBC radio play (also, Penelope Wilton aka Isobel Crawley aka Harriet Jones as Aunt Charlotte)

Michelle Fairley–A Greyhound of a Girl

Stephen Fry–The Cheshire Cheese Cat

ToysComeHomeAmy Poehler–Toys Come Home series

David Tennant–Warrior Sheep (because it would be fun to hear him rap)

Nathan Fillion–the Origami Yoda books

What are your actor/kid lit dream combinations?

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Without considering their oratory skills, we did some wishful thinking and compiled a (by no means comprehensive) list of authors we’d like to follow Neil Gaiman, Jack Gantos, and Lemony Snicket’s example…and narrate the books they wrote.

The Grande Dames:

waitingLois Lowry: Gossamer (sob) and The Giver quartet (double sob)

Susan Cooper: The Dark Is Rising sequence (gritty English accent and fantasy = win)

Katherine Paterson: everything (triple sob)

Patricia MacLachlan: Waiting for the Magic (because she was unexpectedly snarky at The Exquisite Corpse and that would work well for WftM)

The Great Uncles You Wish You Had

Richard Peck: everything but The River Between Us

Michael Morpurgo: War Horse

team human (more…)

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