Saturday, September 15, 2018

Viola Davis Takes a Bow with Beloved Teddy Bear, Corduroy

This is exciting!

The charming children's book Corduroy by Don Freeman was originally published in 1968.  I discovered this cuddly bear when I started teaching and since then Corduroy and its sequel, A Pocket for Corduroy, have become permanent, cherished editions to my classroom library.

A few days ago I read that Emmy, Tony and Academy Award Winning actress Viola Davis had written a "beautifully illustrated tale with a classic feel". I ordered a copy of Corduroy Takes a Bow that day and it does indeed have that "classic feel".

I am particularly excited about this title because it is perfect for introducing the theater to the young children involved with Broadway Books First Class. At the start of each year - the program is entering Year Four - I use children's books to promote discussions about the theater.

The book Backstage Cat has been my anchor text because it highlights the many, many people who must come together to make a show happen.

As the cat wanders around the stage he encounters dressers, stage managers, lighting guys, prop masters and his own leading lady. Children learn everyone's role and come to understand the importance of each member of the production team.

Corduroy Takes a Bow offers a slightly different perspective than Backstage Cat. Instead of starting backstage, Corduroy enters the theater as an audience member. This allows children to feel the excitement of seeing the marquee, exploring the magnificent lobby, being ushered to a seat, and  reading the Playbill.

It also lets us glimpse into the orchestra pit, in the wings with props, costumes and scenery, dressing rooms, and ultimately, on the stage in front of an audience. Corduroy Takes a Bow ends with Corduroy's owner, Lisa, putting on a play for Corduroy in her bedroom. It is here, once again, that the imagination is free to soar. That may be the greatest gift of live theater. It is magical because we are free to take flight together.

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