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

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Acting Out: Six One-Act Plays, Six Newbery Stars Book Poster Image
Fun writing exercise, but doesn't always inspire.

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age 18+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Each play has a lesson, whether it's a rich, selfish man learning the value and beauty of simple things, or children learning the importance of taking care of the environment.


A teacher threatens to whip students with switches.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there is nothing questionable in this collection of plays. Each story has a lesson that is presented clearly.

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What's the story?

In these one-act plays written by six Newbery Award winners, each writer had to use the same six words -- \"dollop,\" \"hoodwink,\" \"Justin,\" \"knuckleball,\" \"panhandle,\" and \"raven\" -- in a different way. The result is a collection of plays that include a view into the publishing world, a look at the environment fighting back against developers, a spooky ghost story, and a twisted look at a fairy tale.

Is it any good?

While each play has some really great elements, including a lesson, the majority are uninspiring. "The Bad Room" by Patricia MacLachlan is one of the weaker ones. It follows kids who are routinely sent to detention in the "bad room" and how they learn to ballroom dance when a new teacher comes into the picture. The play lacked real humor or plot and the story is too familiar.

One of the gems, however, is "The Raven" by Sharon Creech. Edgar Allan Poe is a modern teen looking to publish his poems and his agent asks for a number of hilarious changes (Why can't the raven be a happier bird?) that aggravate the poor author. This fast-paced, fun play is definitely worth performing with friends or in class.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the theater. How should each character look, talk, and act in these plays? Which lessons did you like best? They can also challenge each other to use jaunty words like "hoodwink" and "dollop" mixed in with their everyday speech. And wouldn't it make text messages more entertaining?

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