Remember how the Red Hen was making a loaf of bread, and any animal that said, “Not I,” when she asked, “Who will help me?” didn’t get any of the fresh-baked bread? And remember how the ugly duckling, the one that all the other ducks picked on, ended up developing into a beautiful swan? Well, forget all that. It’s The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. Jack’s giant snacks on the Red Hen, and the Ugly Duckling grows up to be an ugly duck. Those and many other nursery rhymes and fairy tales are turned on their heads. And the children’s book has been adapted for the stage by John Glore, to be produced at the Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine (142 Free St, 207-828-1234), opening performance on Friday the 17th at 4:00 p.m. For this show only, see the play and meet the actors at a festive gala party afterwards. Tickets are $18.00 at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2836965 , or two punches on a Theatre punch pass (includes admission to the party after the show).
Stinky Cheese will prove to youngsters that a sarcastic wit can come in handy, as long as it doesn’t turn bitter. But building scenes in your head, scripting clever retorts for yourself, can lead to a dangerous inner space. Developing teens are especially vulnerable to retreating into their thoughts, which is exactly what happens to Caden Bosch, the main character in Challenger Deep, this month’s book selection in Portland Public Library’s Many Voices Teen Book Group. The meeting this month is Saturday the 18th at 2:30 p.m. in the teen library.
Many Voices is about diversity. Diversity is about understanding. Understanding teens like Caden, who is paranoid about his muttering peers, and lies about having joined the track team at school to go wandering for hours, imagining a world where he’s part of the crew for a pirate captain on a voyage to the Challenger Deep, the ocean's deepest trench. He’s paranoid there, too. Even the captain’s surly parrot is an antagonist in Caden’s mind. Soon, the young man spends so much time negotiating this mental labyrinth, that his parents have no choice but to let him get one of the scarier-sounding diagnoses. Portland teens who read the book and talk about it at Many Voices, like the younger kids learning about norms and boundaries at Stinky Cheese, will gain a new perspective. They’ll need it for the decisions they’re going to make later on.