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Children's LiteratureThis spiral-bound title in the "Craft without Limits" series presents an unusual appearance with its heavy brown paper pages, distinctive drawings, and tipped-in color photos. It grew out of a workshop conducted in India, connecting twelve-year-olds with professional mask-makers and performers to bring an awareness of tradition and professionalism to the children and to inspire them to make masks and use them in a performance with their own script. The first section explores masks—their nature, their meanings, and their uses, especially in the theater. It goes on to describe the making of four traditional types of Indian masks and how the children adapted these techniques to the creation of their own masks with some striking results. The second half focuses on performance, stressing the hard work involved and discussing differences between masked theater—for one, a heightened sense of magic—and the conventional stage. These students made their masks first and then created a play to fit the characters; it can work the other way around. In describing the entire process to final performance, the authors offer many sensible, practical words of advice applicable to any theatrical venture, ignoring no detail useful for novices in the art of theater. The play the children wrote, with notes on the action and the lighting, is included. This unique handbook will surely be of interest to both students and educators working in children's theater and to anyone intrigued by traditional masks—especially of southern India—and their possibilities. 2003, Tara, Ages 12 up.
—Barbara L. Talcroft