There is something undeniably magical about the intersection of children’s literature and live theater. We’ve seen it with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s spectacular musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s masterpiece, Matilda. And now, Bay Area theater goers will strike gold again with an upcoming production of Rickshaw Girl, based on the beautiful book of the same name by Matali Perkins. Oakland’s own Bay Area Children’s Theatre (BACT) opens its theatrical debut of Rickshaw Girl on April 2nd and audiences are sure to fall under Perkin’s literary spell.
Rickshaw Girl tells the story of Naima, a ten-year-old girl living in Bangladesh. Born to impoverished roots, Naima’s gifts include not only a spectacular talent for painting traditional alpanas, but a palpable kindness, which manifests as a yearning to help her family financially. Her father is a rickshaw driver and, when Naima disguises herself as a boy and takes the rickshaw out for a spin, calamity awaits in the form of a wrecked and scraped vehicle. Determined to find a solution, Naima embarks on a journey of both artistic and emotional trials which, ultimately, teach us as readers a lesson in perseverance, creativity and love. This easy-to-read chapter book would be a valuable addition to any bookshelf.
Perkins creates such a memorable character in Naima, that it’s easy to see why this book would translate beautifully on stage. Parents would be foolish to not find a copy of this book as soon as possible, read it together with their children and then treat themselves to a night at the theater.