Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Go Dutch: The Ultimate Zoem Book List by Kidsmomo

We have invited Kidsmomo, an independent website for readers ages 8-13, to guest blog this season. Look for their posts to extend and enrich your families’ experiences with the literary works adapted for the stage.

What do the following have in common: a little man who keeps his name a secret, an old woman who carries shadows in her purse, hands with googly eyes and a super dysfunctional family living on the Moors? They all took to The New Victory stage earlier this month as part of the Zoem New Dutch Theater festival!

After seeing Rumplestiltskin, Miss Ophelia, Hands Up! and Wuthering Heights and discovering that the land of windmills, clogs and tulips is also home to captivating theater, you’re probably dying to visit the Netherlands yourself. But until you can get there, here’s some recommended reading to extend your experience with these four stories (also good for plane reading as you make your way to Holland!).

For kids who want to revisit the famous fairy tale, Paul O. Zelinsky’s version is a beautifully rendered and faithful retelling. A Caldecott Honor book, Rumpelstiltskin is full of rich colors, fine details and perhaps the most humorous facial expressions you’ll ever to see on the strange little man!

Baker-Smith's illustrations are incredible.
Miss Ophelia (based on Ophelia's Shadow Theatre)
Younger kids can explore another magical theater in the picture book Leon and the Place Between, written by Angela McAllister and illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith. In this gorgeous book, a group of kids attend a show full of eye-popping spectacles -- but is the magician really magic, or is it just sleight of hand? Leon is a true believer, and when he’s chosen to participate in the magic act, his short journey to a fantastical otherworld proves that being open to wonder has its rewards!

Older kids can meet more ghosts in the novel Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver. Like the shadows Miss Ophelia approaches, the ghosts in Liesl and Po are more gentle than frightening. In the story, a young girl befriends a ghost, and together they discover that the ghost is the only one who can make things right for the girl's deceased father's soul. There are quite a few twists and adventures, but ultimately this is a tale of friendship and coming to terms with loss.

Hands Up!
If you were inspired by this show, then you may want to try your hand at creating some wacky productions of your own. (Try your hand -- get it?!) The Klutz line of books provides all the step-by-step tips you need to wow your own audience. In particular, you might want to start with The Klutz Book of Animation or Tricky Video. [Full disclosure: Klutz is part of Scholastic, which is where Karen works, although in a completely separate division. But Karen was a Klutz fan long before she started working at Scholastic, and she thinks you’ll be one too!]

Something different?
Wuthering Heights, Restless Souls
There are many adaptations of Wuthering Heights to choose from, but we recommend you delve into Papercutz’s Classic Illustrated #14: the Wuthering Heights graphic novel. The dramatic saga of Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw is well captured by Rick Geary’s quirky illustrations. The drawn faces look so indignant, you can’t help but chuckle a bit at first -- and then sober up quickly when you’re pulled onto the moors of Wuthering Heights. For a double-dose of Wuthering Heights-inspired works, check out the eclectic song by Kate Bush (the music video also reminds us of Catherine’s ghost!).

Hopefully that’s enough to keep you occupied until you can visit the Netherlands! And when you get there, be sure to send us a postcard!

Nancy Tsai and Karen Wang are the forces behind Kidsmomo.com, an independent website for readers ages 8-13. Kidsmomo covers new and favorite children’s books through podcasts, videos, author interviews, book giveaways, and blog posts, and kids are also invited to submit their own book reviews to share with their peers. Nancy and Karen can be reached at contactus@kidsmomo.com.

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