Tomás and the Library Lady

Just as many of us over drinking age sheepishly found ourselves stocking up on Harry Potter and sneaking into Twilight, I can see more than just its primary demographic, kiddies, being drawn in by Tomás’ winsome tale. Seattle Children’s Theatre tackles the touchy subject of “English Only” in this hour-long retelling of Tomás Rivera’s childhood. Though he wound up the first Mexican-American chancellor in the University of California system, Tomás began life as a Texas migrant worker. Plagued by memories of being screamed at by his teacher for not speaking English, young Tomás (Israel Jiminez) is terrified to go to back to school. A kindly librarian (Amy Thone) finds him loitering puzzled outside the Carnegie (carne = meat) library and teaches him to read English, introducing the impoverished little boy to a magical reality. This lively production is sprinkled with cheerful Spanish lullabies and bolstered by an impressive interactive backdrop. The cast skillfully guides its impressionable audience through the Spanglish script with a narrative style easily comprehensible to los niños. This play takes on more than is typical for a children’s drama: It not only makes the little ones (and their adult companions) giggle, but also prompts them to think. Mostly weekdays at 7 p.m., weekends at 2 & 5:30 p.m.; see Web site for exact schedule. Ends March 1. JENNA NAND

Fridays-Sundays. Starts: Jan. 9. Continues through March 1, 2009