Acting Out: Six One-Act Plays! Six Newbery Stars!

PICTURE?? Edited by Justin Chanda “The Bad Room” by Patricia MacLachlan “The Raven” by Sharon Creech “The Billionaire and the Bird” by Katherine Paterson “The Dollop” by Susan Cooper “Effigy in the Outhouse” by Richard Peck “Not Seeing is Believing” by Avi     For this collection, editor Justin Chanda persuaded six Newbery Award-winning authors to write a one-act play and asked each to pick a word. All six words had to be incorporated into each play’s dialogue. The word “dollop,” for example, shows up as the name of pet cat; a synonym for contract minutiae, a spoonful of mayonnaise; a titular rock creature; a ghostly substitute teacher’s last name; and an amount of kindness. This unifying device is a bit “gimmicky,” but it’s unobtrusive in most cases. (The word “knuckleball” ends up being an anachronism in “The Effigy in the Outhouse,” but how many people can pinpoint the year of a word’s origin?) In addition, although playwriting is a new genre for four of the authors (Susan Cooper and Richard Peck have screenwriting credits), their experiences in literature for young people results in mostly successful works.        The target reading audience for Acting Out is older elementary and middle school students; I think the target viewing audience is in that age range as well. All six plays can be easily read and produced; they would make a good introduction to...

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