“Tomás and the Library Lady” the Play

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We love going to the theater.  We sound so fancy! We’re not really, but we do love to go to family plays.  I’ve talked about ZACH Theater before as we have gone to many shows there.  Our most recent adventure was to see a play called Tomás and the Library Lady . We as a family LOVED it! It was the perfect play to see at the perfect time.  Let me explain.

The play is based on a children’s picture book by the same name and is actually a true story. The main character, Tomás, is the son of migrant workers that travel from Texas to Iowa to find work in the corn fields. Tomás finds a library in town and befriends the librarian who shows him the magical world of books. At the end you find out that Tomás grew up to be a real life famous writer himself (Tomás Rivera) which is fantastic!

Why I loved the play:

  • It is English AND in Spanish. The library lady teaches Tomás words in english while he teaches her words in Spanish. It is a really wonderful bond they  develop. It helps the boys see how awesome it is to speak English and Spanish. Tomás is proud to speak both. This helps the boys be proud, too.
  • Tomás learns to read in english so he can escape into the many amazing books the library lady introduces him to. M is at that same point right now. We are trying to help want to learn to read and write by showing him how great books are. We have been reading to them all of their lives, of course, and love their books. Just now we are focusing more on word recognition and spelling. It was very inspirational for M to see Tomás struggle with words, yet not give up trying to read them.
  • They sing! This is always a bonus in my book. We love musicals in this family. Anytime we can go to a play where songs are in both languages we are there! And they were pretty good, too!
  • It was a simple yet lovely production. ZACH Theater is extremely good at making shows seem so effortless.  I’m sure a lot of production goes on behind the scenes, but you wouldn’t know it. There are no big sets, bright lights and fancy costumes. The emphasis is always on the story not the props. This is a great way to get kids to focus on the characters and their words. This play had a trunk, three suitcases and books. That’s it. There were only three people in it. And only one character had a a quick costume change off stage. The other two would just put on a hat/remove it or make a scarf a mustache to switch characters. How cool is that?

All of those points are great on their own, but there is one more thing that just touched my heart fully. It was that it was very similar to my story. Sure the details were different, but the bond was true. When we moved to the states and we started school I was an extremely shy 2nd grader and did not want to go anywhere with the other kids. I didn’t want to sit by myself at lunch or recess so I clung to my teacher, Ms. Jacinto. She could see that I was quickly withdrawing, so she went beyond her scope as teacher to become my friend. She let me have lunch with her and then walked me to the library to meet the librarian, Mrs. Davila. They must have known exactly what I needed because from then on, I would go to the library and help after having lunch with Ms. Jacinto. I would put books away and clean up. In return, Mrs. Davila introduced me to books that I had never heard of and helped me with the words. As an added bonus, I became a pro at the Dewey Decimal System. (Who remembers that?)  Most importantly, I learned to love books because of both of them. I hope that we can do that for the boys as well.

The attention and care they gave me for that brief time in my life when they didn’t have to will always hold a place in my heart. I even got teary eyed at the end of the play because it took me back to that lovely little library at Nye Elementary that saved my spirit. I did eventually join the masses and made friends my age, but I don’t think I would’ve found the confidence to be me without both of them.

Anyways, back to the play. GO SEE IT! It is awesome. If you are in Austin it plays at ZACH until February 14th. If not, find a show near you and get the book. The boys left inspired to read and they are speaking in Spanish even more!  Thank you, Tomás and the Library Lady  and ZACH Theater for being the perfect play at the perfect time!

Tomas Cast

The boys with the cast

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