Since its publication in 1995, author Sam McBratney’s classic storybook Guess How Much I Love You has provided reassurance to millions of “little ones” and brought joy to “big ones” throughout the world. Sweetly and simply combatting the stresses and cares of daily living by aptly articulating the unconditional love a parent (or grandparent or aunt or uncle or any of a plethora of caring “big ones”) feels for a child, the little book has earned the praise and devotion of educators and literary critics as well as the families for which it has provided a cherished bedtime ritual.
When Little Nutbrown Hare says “Guess how much I love you” to Big Nutbrown Hare, Big doesn’t think he can guess that. So Little opens his arms as wide as he can reach; but Big can open his arms wider, so a more extravagant size is put forth. Thus the sweet game begins, ending only when Little falls asleep after his exuberant declaration “I love you right up to the moon” is countered by Big Nutbrown Hare’s exultant response: “I love you right up to the moon and back.” Just recounting those lines makes one feel warm all over, and confident that no matter what happens, somehow everything will come out all right.
Children’s literature can help provide a respite from a world that sometimes seems terrifying, a feeling that is reinforced by the horror of current events; arts of all kinds offer solace, hope, and inspiration. These truths are a basic tenet underlying Darke County Center for the Arts’ Family Theatre Series which gives local youngsters and their families the opportunity to experience professional theatre within their home community. DCCA’s next FTS presentation, Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s production of Guess How Much I Love You and I Love My Little Storybook, comes at an especially appropriate time as citizens across the nation continue to confront overwhelming disasters and inexplicable tragedies.
The second of the books featured in the show, I Love My Little Storybook, is a joyous celebration of creativity, storytelling, and reading featuring a friendly lion, a princess, a frog prince, and a humongous giant. These characters were created by Anita Jeram, who also provided the original winsome illustrations for Guess How Much I Love You which so delightfully capture the spirit of McBratney’s tale.
Guess How Much I Love You and I Love My Little Storybook will be performed on Jan. 27 at 2 p.m. at the Versailles Performing Arts Center, 280 Marker Road in the Versailles school complex; the production was moved to Versailles due to the temporary closing of Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall. So that this opportunity for families to grow together through the arts can remain accessible to as many local citizens as possible, ticket prices are kept quite low. Thanks to DCCA memberships and donations and sponsorships from generous individuals, organizations, and businesses, admission to Family Theatre shows costs just $5 per ticket.
I can think of no better way to spend a winter afternoon than witnessing wise, funny, and sweet characters on stage magically bringing life to ideas and emotions that evoke peace and assurance in children and their chaperones. To take advantage of this joyful opportunity, contact DCCA at 937-547-0908 or visit www.centerforarts.net.
Marilyn Delk is a Director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.