Boys and girls, come out to play.
The moon doth shine as bright as day!
Leave your supper and leave your sleep,
And come with your playfellows into the street.
Come with a whoop, come with a call,
Come with a good will, or not at all.
Up the ladder and down the wall,
A half-penny loaf will serve us all;
You find the milk, and I'll find the flour,
And we'll have a pudding in half an hour.
You are about to start a text adventure for a night out at the theatre. Here is a list of the items you'll need:
*One posh hat or tiara
*One dapper suit or fancy gown
*Elegant yet comfortable shoes
*A walking stick or a fan
*A horse-drawn coach (or an engine-powered limousine)
*Spending money for refreshments, theatre momentos, buskers
Okay, you're all set. The text adventure begins:
Congratulations! You have scored tickets for the July 2007 premiere of the theatrical pastiche called The Carnival of Children's Literature. The buzz-phrase surrounding this production is "The Play's the Thing." Despite the surface glitz and glamour of all the publicity and press, you know that the core values of the play involve the passion and dedication of some of the most talented actors, directors, costume designers and lighting specialists in the business.
As you walk up to the Will-Call booth to obtain your tickets you notice the OUTSIDE ENTERTAINERS performing:
On one side of the ticket window, Little Willow of Bildungsroman recites her favorite passage from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream. On the other side, Praveen of Tao of Simplicity reveals bon mots of wisdom about the nursery rhymes we thought we knew so well. As you walk by, you learn the Taoist meaning of Little Bo Peep. Meanwhile, some juggler dressed in motley unicycles up and down the sidewalk calling out jokes to anyone who will listen. You drop coins into each of their hats before the ushers whisk your entourage into
Some of the lobby posters advertise reviews of upcoming productions: Jen Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page reviews a Beacon Street Girls Adventure about children attending a summer film camp: Maeve on the Red Carpet, by Annie Bryant. Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews reviews a compelling drama involving Hebrew School, Catechism, and Shakespeare: The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt. You also admire the costumes of productions past: Robin Brande's account of Stephenie Meyer's Eclipse Ball in May reveals many dresses that sparkle and swish. Since Meyer's book Eclipse is coming out in August, the costume display is more than timely.
One of the reasons this theatre is so well-attended is that it shows 48 millimeter films during the week. The lobby has several gilt-framed film reviews: Lone Star Ma's offshoot blog Daughter and a Movie, contains a review of "Nancy Drew". J. L. Bell of Oz and Ends speculates how wretched the film version of Susan Coopers's book The Dark is Rising will be. Lucynda Riley of The Traveling Man presents Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
You find your seats and glance at the program. However, you don't want to spoil any surprises for yourself, so you talk quietly with your companions until the lights dim and the curtain rises upon
A man walks out onto the stage. He is dressed as a tomato. The tomato-man is video-blog celebrity Hank Green, interviewed by Jules and Eisha of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Then, Anne L. of Book Buds reveals in a soliloqy that she believes Children's Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky is the Joyce Carol Oates of kidlit. "What does it all mean?" you whisper to your companions, but they reply, "Shhhh! Laurie Bluedorn of Trivium Pursuit is about to sing her Podcast #4 Interview with Eloise Wilkin’s Daughter, Part Three." Then, the plot begins to reveal itself to you as Jay of The Disco Mermaids speaks of the two actors who interpreted the lead characters in his novel during the audio recording of Jay's first published novel, Thirteen Reasons Why. Silvia of Po Moyemu--In My Opinion closes out the scene with a review of the audiobook of Rick Riordan's "The Lightning Thief."
The next musical numbers are all about that wild, happy-go-lucky fellow, Harry Potter. "Urgh!" one of your companions moans, "Why do they always think they have to bring in the big show-off names in order to put on a production?" Now it is your turn to shush your companion. You thwack him lightly over the head with your program as Scott of College and Finance provides insight into the human psyche via song in Harry Potter's Guide to the People You Meet in College. Seafarer of Family Travel: See The World With Your Kids responds with some out-of-town alternatives for Harry Potter when you travel with kids. Then, the stage-lights cool to blues and greens. Bobbarama tapdances with the finesse of Bob Fosse as he sings Harry Potter and the Shouters, a ditty explaining why he really doesn't want to be pestered until three days after the release of Book Seven. "I think this is going to be the breakaway hit!" you whisper. The people in front of you turn around to glare, and you vow that you will make no more utterances throughout the rest of the program.
Megan Germano of Read, Read, Read skips onstage to laud The Schernoff Discoveries by Gary Paulsen. Cloudscome of A Wrung Sponge shimmies as she sings about books that celebrate Fathers and Sons. The final number for this act, Chris Barton's collection of James Marshall memorials, brings a thundrous round of applause as the ensemble from Act I dance across the stage wearing cardboard cutouts of George, Martha, Miss Nelson and other beloved James Marshall characters.
The lights come up for
With your companions, you head out to the LOBBY again and search for refreshments at the concession stand called The Pink Refrigerator (named after the book by Tim Eagan), headed by Tasha of Kids Lit. Tasha smiles at you and says, "You should really try these new confections created by Yvonne Russell of Grow Your Writing Business. They're all named after different Folktale Categories." You snag three Noodlehead scones, one Pourquoi madeleine and two Beast biscuits. You apologize for accidentally dropping one of the slippery Trickster tarts. The drink of the evening is called the Big News, and Mary Lee of A Year of Reading is the bartender. "Bones!" one of your companions say when she hears what the ingredients are. "There is no possible way that the drink concoction actually exists in this dimension." Mary Lee's co-bartending friend Franki says, "Why don't you try an Ellie McDoodle instead?" Your companion smiles, and soon everyone is cheerfully swilling drinks and munching yummy treats.
The bells chime the three minute warning, and you return to your seats for
The romantic portion of the show commences. Adrienne of What Adrienne Thinks About That, reveals that Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. Lindsey of Zee Says=Film Addict + Teen Librarian belts out The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart. Tension mounts as Dana of Mombian rejoins with the perils and pitfalls of romance as she recounts the Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend, by Carrie Jones. "What mush!" one of your companions says. "I wish Sam Riddleburger would burst onto the scene with Great Robots of Kidlit (that aren't Transformers)." Moments later, Riddleburger's robots appear and chase everyone off the stage. "How did you predict that? You need therapy!" you whisper to your companion (forgetting your earlier promise not to talk during the show) as stage props are whisked away and the display is set for
Your companion replies, "Oh, Everyone Needs Therapy," just as TherapyDoc enters stage-right to ruminate about Children's Books, Mannies, and Waiting Rooms. Soon after, Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect launches into a power-ballad of a song called Reconsidering Ten Little Rabbits – Evaluating Books From the Viewpoint of Other Cultures . After the song, there is quiet except for a murmuring in the audience. Then, much to everyone's surprise, the great diva herself, the founder of this very theatrical series, Melissa Wiley of Here in the Bonny Glen takes the stage. Slowly, with the melodic mezzo-soprano voice for which she is so renowned, Wiley sings, "Feeling My Way to the Write Side of the Desk." The audience claps and sings along.
At the edge of a cardboard lake, Susan Thomsen of Chicken Spaghetti waxes poetically about a place called Frog Heaven: Ecology of a Vernal Pool, by Doug Wechsler. In response, Summer of Mommy Babble begs Susan to consider Environmentally friendly kid’s books. Samir of Samir Bharadwaj.com launches into a quick reminiscence about Moon-faced men and multi-layered amphibians. For the finale, Camille of Book Moot sings Goodbye, Lady Bird Johnson and everyone on stage joins in the chorus to celebrate Texas wildflowers.
The curtain drops, the lights brighten, and everyone cheers repeatedly as the actors join hands, bow, then bow again. "Encore!" the audience calls out. "Encore!" And behold-- there will actually be an encore. The lights dim and the curtain comes up once more to reveal
A PUPPET SHOW
Charlotte of Charlotte's Library is the puppeteer for Wiggle and Waggle. Two humble worm puppets keep the audience mesmerized. Then, the curtain drops for the final time, the actors come out to take one last bow, and the production is over.
As your companions walk with you out through the LOBBY and into the warm, breezy night, you remember Prospero's words from The Tempest by Shakespeare:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
"What a production!" you marvel as you all head to the restaurant hosting the post-show potluck. "What a production indeed!" your companions agree. "At first, we were hesitant to attend the show, as we'd heard rumors of the director's wild and eccentric temper . It's funny-- we didn't even see the director tonight." As you talk, the brightly-colored juggling unicyclist passes in front of you once more. You toss her your last few coins and walk on. Your companions continue talking. "We want to return for next month's production of The Carnival of Children's Literature," they say. "Do you know who is directing it?"
The answer to that question is: no one... yet.
Shall it be you? Say yes!
If you would like to host The Carnival of Children's Literature for August (or other future carnivals), please contact Melissa Wiley via this link.