Reading/Interest Jevel: Primary, Intermediate
Author: José Cruz González, Edited by Coleman A. Jennings
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Estimated Runtime: 60 minutes
Number of Characters: 8
Tomás and his family live in Texas, where his parents work as migrant farmers, but each summer they must travel to Iowa to find work. Tomás has been having trouble in school, especially with reading, and is plagued with nightmares about his cruel teacher. While in Iowa, Tomás discovers the library. A kind librarian encourages him to visit often and helps him with his reading when he does. Their friendship grows, and as Tomás’ reading improves, his imagination soars and the books come to life. With growing confidence Tomás is able to face the fears and nightmares he has been having about school so that he is ready to return to Texas at the end of the summer.
This delightful play is based on the book of the same title by Pat Mora. González’s adaptation beautifully captures the imagery and magic of the children’s book through poetic and relatable dialogue, while also enhancing and fleshing out the story. The use of projection screens bring Tomás’ imaginations while reading to life, similar to the way the illustrations do in the book. As is typical for his work, González effortlessly weaves English and Spanish dialogue through this bilingual script, which is still fully understandable to an English-only speaking audience. This Spanish and English dialogue and the social and educational issues addressed create the opportunity for abundant post-show discussion and thought. The script was designed so that just two actors could play all the parts, jumping quickly from character to character in many of the scenes. The small cast would be ideal for a touring production; however the script is versatile and the cast size can be increased if desired.