This is the first of two Perfect Picture Books today.

Title: Lights on Broadway: A Theatrical Tour from A to Z

Author: Harriet Ziefert, with Brian Stokes Mitchell

Illustrator: Elliot Hreloff

Publisher: Maplewood, NJ: Blue Apple Books, 2009

 

Genre: Picture Book, Non-fiction, Alphabet Book/Theatrical Dictionary

Audience Age: 6 to 12

Theme: Theatre, backstage, theatrical terms

Opening Sentences: A is for Audition and Actor and Audience and Applause.

Synopsis: Although this book goes through the alphabet, it is not an ABC book for small children. It is really a theatrical dictionary for children in the early and middle grades. Besides giving several acting terms for each letter, there are quotations from actors, directors, and others in the theatre world, longer definitions, and additional related terms that do not necessarily begin with the letter being featured. For example, in relation to “Audition” there are brief explanations of “Headshot” and “The Director” as well as a longer explanation of “Audition.” The book celebrates the joys of a stage career, as well as some of the difficulties, and introduces kids to an amazing variety of terms, plays, actors, writers, directors and others. The art is off-beat, colorful, and full of kid-appeal. The book’s introduction is by Tony Award winning actor Brian Stokes Mitchell, who performs a song on the included CD.

Activities/Resources: Drama Resource has a vast array of theatre-related activities.

Child Drama has lesson plans for all ages in elementary school.

Lesson Planet has many lesson plans for incorporating Broadway plays into classroom learning.

Family activities could include attending a locally produced play (either professional, amateur, or school production), watching for the various elements of a stage production – set, costumes, characterization, etc. – then talking about it all afterwards.

Sometimes professional theatres have tours, especially at the beginning of the season, where children and adults can experience some of the backstage activities firsthand.

There are also theatre camps and after-school activities that are available to kids who are particularly keen.

Availability: Readily available in hardcover.

Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources, thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her blog. Find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”

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