#SOL15: The Book Behind the Show


Sunday afternoon was delightful as several of my siblings and families met in the Indianola High School Auditorium for the community theatre presentation of the musical “Shrek”.  Our star of the show was the little red-headed magician.  Other patrons may have focused on different characters!

What is the “backstory” of Shrek?  Where did it come from?

Shrek! is a picture book written and illustrated in 1990, by William Steig.  An ogre is sent from home at the age of seven to see the world and ends up saving a princess.  The story includes many favorite fairy tale figures like the Gingerbread Boy, Pinocchio, the Three Little Pigs, the Big Bad Wolf and of course, Shrek’s sidekick, the donkey.


The book and the play have similarities.  But it’s the differences between the movie and play version and the book that are quite interesting for readers.  Which has the most memorable language?  Descriptions?

After two different online book clubs this summer, writing about reading Shrek!  and writing about viewing the stage version of Shrek! was not easy to focus.  Should I write about the power of the music?  The staging of the play?  The character development?  Or was it okay to focus on the sheer enjoyment of the afternoon?

What is the purpose of writing? (Do our students know and understand?)

What would “actors” in the production say about how the play was or was not like the movie?

I wonder if the stage actors ever read the book?  What do you think?


Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 


14 responses

  1. sallydonnelly11 | Reply

    Last Spring my 5th graders put on a production of Shrek Jr and just last night at summer Storytime at the library, a teacher read aloud the book by Steig!!

    The questions you pose are great! Last night I was especially amazed at the book’s strong vocabulary.

    I’ve also seen the Disney Movie which adds a 3rd and different version.

    I agree – lots to write about reading/viewing!

    1. Sally,
      I was so amazed by the book (fabulous award-winning author). I haven’t seen any of the movies!

  2. Two of my kids were actors in our high school theater, Fran – they had a fabulous director who always insisted that they “read the book”. Both said that it improved their acting so much to have that layer of original intent. Thanks for the thoughtful questions!

    1. Thanks, Tara. I hope they all read the book as it’s quite amazing! So much reading, writing, speaking and listening in the whole drama field.

      More literacy – real life transfer to think about!

  3. I have only seen the movie but I am sure that the important message of respecting and celebrating differences comes through in all the different media.

    1. Thanks, Haddon!
      I hope that message comes through! Making it deliberate, thoughtful and oh, so planful seems to be an important part of REALLY understanding the author’s intent!

  4. I haven’t read the book but I have seen the play and several of the films. I really need to check out the book.

    1. You will LOVE the book! It’s amazing!

  5. Your post makes me want to reread the book. Steig is a master of language.

    1. The book is fun! You will enjoy revisiting the book! Thanks for stopping by, reading, and commenting!

  6. I find the book is so different from the movie. Now I’m thinking of having my students do it as a play. That would be fun!

    1. Having students process a story from the viewpoint of a stage is a nice different point of view!

  7. As a high school director, it was so critical for students to read the texts. In fact, it was perfect motivation. HS teacher is only good when kids are well prepared. I saw a production of Shrek and it was boring.

    1. There was a high level of enthusiasm and excitement so even though I only knew one ten year old and had no clue about the storyline, it was fun!!!

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