Hoogland, Cornelia. Salmonberry: A West Coast Fairy Tale. 32 pp. B+ 3-9 Salmonberry lives along the western coast of Canada. When she is young, her mother gives her a glass fishing float and tells her it will bring good luck. Soon after, her mother dies. Her father remarries, but his job as a fisherman keeps him out at sea for extended periods of time, leaving Salmonberry alone with her unkind, ugly stepmother and stepsister. Instead of the traditional fairy godmother, Salmonberry’s magical friend is a talking seal named Teabag, who gives her another glass fishing float. As in the Cinderella story, Salmonberry attends a dance where she attracts the attention of a Native American prince. As she leaves the dance, one of the floats falls from her pocket. The prince finds it and takes it to the library, where he hopes to find Salmonberry by asking all of the people in the city to explain the story behind the glass ball and its owner. Salmonberry arrives at the library that night after the other townspeople have left, and the Prince follows her home. The two are reunited and soon marry. Together they happily run a restaurant in which the stepmother and stepsister work, cleaning the floors and dishes. This show’s greatest strength lies in its creative use of the theatrical medium. Teabag and the stepsister are performed by puppets. Video segments are recommended to enhance crowd scenes, and audience participation can be encouraged during the storytelling sequence. Sometimes Hoogland becomes so caught up in her theatricality that she directs the play through her stage directions, but when taken as suggestions, the stage directions can prove helpful. Unfortunately, Hoogland becomes entangled in two elements of the play: her agenda and the fairytale on which her story is based. The ideas of self-sufficiency, environmental awareness, and the power of story are all important topics, but Hoogland does not seem to trust her story to express them. Instead, her characters spell them out in bon mot that are all too often unmotivated by character. Her adherence to the original fairytale also serves to weaken the characters: the stepmother shows no deep motivation for wanting her daughter to marry the Native American Prince, Salmonberry has no reason for running away from the ball, and the Prince has no reason to think that the easiest way to find his love is by asking everyone in the village to tell him stories. Salmonberry has a cast of nine characters. The set includes representations of the beach, a large rock in the sea, Salmonberry’s house, the community hall (Festival Dance), the library, and the caf). From: Ellis, Roger, ed. International Plays for Young Audiences: Contemporary Works from Leading Playwrights. Meriwether Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1566080657. $16.95. 424 pp. K-12 Reviewed by Lindsay Adamson
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