Family Blogger Staci’s review of Tomás

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Shaped greatly by the likes of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein, I believe I continued to be a writer into my adult life because I was fortunate to have some amazing influences that guided me to become the best I could be. I can’t imagine adding a language and cultural barrier to the odds of achieving greatness, so I related to Tomás and the Library Lady, however I also reveled in his tenacity and ability to overcome obstacles.

Tomás brought to life, a character that children could easily relate to, as a role model. He was a determined dreamer, and while he had fears of failure, he used his vivid imagination to grow in so many ways throughout the story.

Even though his family was poor, they were loving, supportive and hard-working—coupled with the friendship he honed with a librarian in his small Iowa town, he learned not only how to be a good person, but how to have a breakthrough with language and learn to read in English. That new ability allowed him to be swept away from the chicken coop his family resided in, to magical places through the words in his books. The Librarian often let him borrow books and even gifted him a journal to write his own adventures in.

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The life of Tomás is a true and amazing tale of an unlikely hero who changed the world through strength and a love of learning—he never forgot his roots and remained humble, crediting that Librarian for her devotion to making learning fun.

I was impressed with the depth of characters in this show, my daughter and her friend accompanied me, and their reaction was insightful. Both commented on how motivated Tomás was to learn, but teachers had been cruel and impatient with his language fluency. They remarked that finding the Library Lady meant he had someone who was teaching him on “his terms” and showed him ways to make learning not only bearable but amazing!

Library Lady Actress Liz Polen said, “My mom has always inspired me through her patience and understanding. She has always been endlessly patient with me throughout all my different struggles as a kid to now as an adult. And she has always displayed deep understanding of all people that she comes into contact with, always trying to learn about who they are and what is important to them.

Tomás Actor Enrique Guevera added, “My voice teacher at ASU has helped me understand a lot about myself and my craft. She has instilled in me that perfection does not exist, but that we can always strive for it in an effort to better ourselves.”

And that was the moral of this story—to accept others as they are and help them strive to learn new things. The acting in this play highlighted that beautifully. I remember visiting libraries as a child and feeling the excitement of where a book would take me to. With modern technology I often worry my kids won’t experience that same anticipation. But, today, watching this play, I realized there is still so much more about a book, then a tablet or a phone can provide.

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As Polen put it, “I don’t think anything can compare with one’s imagination. There is a joy that is particular to reading books that you experience when you are immersed in a story and transported to a different world. I also think the benefit to interacting with an actual librarian is that they can respond to you as a human and guide you based on your interactions.”

Guevera mirrored her sentiment, “It’s healthy to have face to face interactions, especially as children. While the internet is an excellent source of information, there is so much a child can gain from developing creative and social skills.”

Oh, and…library books smell so good! 😉 – Tomás.

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