Corduroy Takes a Bow

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Corduroy Takes a Bow Book Poster Image
Toy bear gets in the act at the theater in charming sequel.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Shows the many people and talents it takes to put on a theatrical production: from the box office ticket sellers and inside program passers, to the people who handle the props, lights, and costumes, to the the stagehands, musicians, singers, and actors, even the ushers with their flashlights.

Positive Messages

It's fun to go to the theater. It's nice to have a special time out with a parent. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lisa and her mom are African American, and the lead actor playing Mother Goose has brown skin. The audience, actors, staff, and musicians are diverse. Lisa's mom is kind, patient, loving to Lisa, and that's how Lisa treats Corduroy. Corduroy is curious and independent, though that sometimes gets him in trouble. Lisa reinforces the joy of theater after she's back home, putting on a show for Corduroy in her bedroom and reading to Corduroy from the playbill (or program). 

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that actress Viola Davis' lively Corduroy Takes a Bow is based on characters created by Don Freeman, who wrote the classic Corduroy and its two previous sequels. Now, on the occasion of that book's 50th anniversary, illustrator Jody Wheeler gives updated looks to Lisa and her mom, and the whole design, feel, and story is fresh and upbeat as we experience Lisa's first time at the theater -- and Corduroy's, too. When he accidentally slips off Lisa's lap, he crawls toward the stage and ends up onstage during the performance! The actors are OK with it, and Lisa is happy to reunite with him backstage after the curtain call. Lisa and her mom are African American, and there's diversity in the audience, staff, actors, and backstagers too, which makes this an excellent choice for families looking for books with diverse characters.

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What's the story?

In CORDUROY TAKES A BOW, young Lisa takes her beloved stuffed bear to the theater with her mom on a snowy night to see a performance of Mother Goose rhymes. When Corduroy accidentally slips off Lisa's lap, he lands on the floor and begins to crawl toward the stage to hear and see better but falls in the orchestra pit. One of the musicians thinks he's a prop and places him onstage. A stagehand puts him on a prop table backstage, but Corduroy doesn't stay there long. He finds a prop tree and climbs it to get a better look at the action onstage, slipping into a cradle hung on one of its limbs. The tree is moved onstage for the final scene, and as the actor playing Mother Goose sings "Rock-a-bye baby / On the tree top ..." an offstage fan blows air into the cradle, which begins to rock, and down comes Corduroy, "cradle and all" -- much to the surprise of Lisa and her mom. Mother Goose scoops him up for the curtain call, and soon after the family is reunited backstage.

Is it any good?

This lively sequel is true to Corduroy's curious nature and independent streak, his warm friendship with Lisa, and the loving bond between Lisa and her mom. It has the added dimension of capturing the excitement of a kid's first time at the theater. Generations of readers have enjoyed the original three Corduroy stories. Now today's readers get a new one from an award-wining stage and film actress who weaves in the many different people responsible for putting on a theatrical production -- from the folks who handle the props, lights, and costumes, to the stage manager, stagehands, musicians, singers, and actors, even the ushers with their flashlights, guiding ticket holders to their seats. Corduroy Takes a Bow would be a great book to share with a young kid before going to see a performance of "The Nutcracker," a concert, or even a school play.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about all the aspects of theater production shown in Corduroy Takes a Bow. Have you ever seen a play or a musical live onstage? Does this book make you want to see a theater performance? 

  • What do you think goes on backstage during a performance? Do you think the stagehands and prop masters keep doing things while the actors are onstage or just sit around? 

  • Have you read the original Corduroy book? How does this one compare? Is it fun to imagine your stuffed animals coming to life and having their own adventures when you're not with them? Try making up a story about what goes on. 

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