As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of introducing young children to performing arts. I went to the children’s symphony in Phoenix as an elementary schooler, and I still remember some of those performances to this day. Now I take my children to our local performing arts center for its “Arts for Youth Program” a few times per year. The storybook adaptations are our favorites.
Friday we saw “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman. I was curious how well the play would relate to the book, considering Eastman’s classic is a scant 699 words. To create a 55-minute performance, the scriptwriters introduced new themes and additional subplots. For example, the “scary snort” is scheduled to knock down Baby Bird’s tree in the name of progress, while a tree hugger tries to save birds’ home. Baby Bird, Hen, Cat and Dog form a “mixed up family” who work together to get Baby Bird home, showing how all kinds of folks can get along. I almost thought the rag-tag group was going to give up the search and adopt Hen as the new mama.
The show was enjoyable, but it certainly was a departure from the book. In most cases I like the original book better than a screen or stage adaptation. Nothing beats my imagination when it comes to bringing characters to life. So, I have to force myself to forget the original text and approach the play or movie with fresh eyes.
I’m curious, have you ever liked a movie or play better than the original book?