Lights on Broadway — Perfect Picture Book Friday

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.”

22 thoughts on “Lights on Broadway — Perfect Picture Book Friday”

  1. What a clever idea. The more I read your description, the more I wanted this book. I also thought — I’m so happy this pitch got into the hands of someone who loves Broadway.

    1. Oh, good point! I’m glad the publisher saw the value in this. It’s a great resource for young kids who are interested in theatre. (Older “kids,” too!)

  2. What a great book! Wish they had books like this when I was a young child. I loved acting and the theater in elementary school and would have read it over and over. Great selection. Like your resources.

  3. Oh, wow. First, we love Harriett Ziefert. We have so many of her books. I can’t wait to check out her clever take on theater. My boys go to theater shows for children periodically, so this should make a delightful read.

    1. Oh, this will be such fun for them. Be sure to tune in to my blog next week, too, when Jennifer Kirkeby tells about adapting Llama, Llama, Red Pajama for the stage.

  4. Beth, I love your choice for PPBF. 🙂
    Great for kids who are really “into” theater and the performing arts…but also a wonderful peek inside for those who aren’t, but might have an “inner performer” hiding inside. 🙂

    1. You’re right, Vivian. It would be a great way to coax that “inner performer” out of hiding. It certainly presents theatre in a fun way.

  5. Oh this is perfect for my daughter! She is 7 and talks non-stop about being in the school play next year. Looking forward to checking this out for her. Thanks, Beth!

    1. How exciting for your daughter! She’ll love this. (Hopefully she won’t be too old for my books by the time I get them written and get them published — they’re right up her alley.)

  6. What an interesting-sounding book on a topic that might be of much interest to lots of kids! It sounds very educational – I’m sure I could learn a lot. Thanks so much for sharing this one – we have a few on art and music, but not so many on acting. I’m glad to be adding this one!

    1. Hopefully some time in the future there’ll be a whole series of picture books on acting that might be worthy of being added to PPBF… I’m writing as fast as I can! 😉

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