“The words are simple, direct, and true.”
That’s how author Sam McBratney explains the phenomenal continuing success of his beloved children’s book Guess How Much I Love You, first published in 1994. Darke County Center for the Arts will present Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s production of the charming tale at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall on Sunday, April 8; that dramatization will be accompanied by I Love My Little Storybook, based on the book of the same name written and illustrated by Anita Jeram, the artist whose gentle watercolors enhance McBratney’s simple, direct, and true words in his incredibly popular story.
Guess How Much I Love You contains only about 400 carefully chosen words, produced after McBratney’s editor suggested that the writer should pen a picture book. Surprised by the suggestion, and expecting that the words should come after, not before the pictures, he was told that illustrators can render in exquisite detail whatever the imagination of a good writer can dream up, and eventually realized that a powerful story can be written using hardly any words at all. But the task was not easy; “I came to believe that it’s as difficult to write a fine picture book… as it is to write a fine novel,” says the author.
McBratney’s timeless story of the Nutbrown Hares competing to measure their love for one another has become a bedtime favorite read all over the world. As most parents and grandparents and children know, Little Nutbrown Hare begins the competition by declaring his love is as big as his arms can reach, but is immediately outdone by Big Nutbrown Hare’s claim that his love is as big as his even longer arms can go; the one-up-manship sweetly escalates from there. Mermaid Theater utilizes masterfully designed puppets, evocative music, and a recorded narration by actor Beau Bridges to create their stage production of the tale and the accompanying story, I Love My Little Storybook.
I Love My Little Storybook opens with an eager little bunny opening his storybook and entering a world of enchanted forests, gentle lions, stomping giants, and sleeping princesses, offering a glimpse of the wonders to be discovered in books. In creating this magical world, author Anita Jeram drew inspiration from her own menagerie of animals that in addition to cats, dogs, and rabbits, also includes toads, a lizard, a snake, and a tortoise.
Mermaid Theatre ranks among North America’s most respected theatre companies and has won numerous awards, performing before more than four million spectators on four continents. These cultural ambassadors for Canada seek to introduce family audiences to the excitement of innovative theatre, at the same time promoting the art of puppetry and encouraging the love of reading. As patrons of past Mermaid productions presented by DCCA will attest, these shows thrill children and delight adults, creating memorable experiences that live on long after the curtain falls.
Tickets for Guess How Much I Love You and I Love My Little Storybook are just $5, and can be obtained by contacting DCCA at [email protected] or calling 937-547-0908. Tickets are also available online at www.CenterForArts.net or may be purchased at Greenville Public Library, Readmore’s Hallmark, and Darke County Visitors Center in Greenville, and the Worch Memorial Library in Versailles. If any remain by showtime, tickets will also be available at the door prior to the performance which starts at 2 p.m.