Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen: A Christmas Pageant; Adapted by Richard Kennedy, Pictures By Edward S. Gazsi
Kindergarten-Grade 6. This stage adaptation of the classic Andersen tale is a welcome alternative to standard holiday fare. Kennedy alters or edits portions of the original story in the interest of maintaining the dramatic pace as well as making the stage production manageable, so purists beware. His choices are generally good, combining or eliminating some characters and scenes. He also places more emphasis on some minor characters who not only keep the story moving but also add welcome touches of humor. The play has wide family and community appeal, clever dialogue, solid dramatic tension, and respect for its audience. Gazsi's illustrations highlight the text with bright rich colors, although Kai and Gerda seem very young and remain so throughout. The paintings are packed with whimsical detail. Some of the children's faces seem to be photographs grafted onto the art; the effect is unsettling but intriguing. The book is physically appealing and lends itself well to one-on-one sharing. Only a few bars of the music are printed; the full score must be ordered separately from the address in the foreword. In a note, Kennedy explains that the play's requirements are flexible enough to accommodate the experience of the cast and crew. Adapted by one of the United States's most original storytellers, this pageant may well become a Christmas classic.