★ Read along for a welcoming community: MMT presents TOMÁS AND THE LIBRARY LADY

Books can do all kinds of things. Well, books and the people who love them. Take Roanoke’s stance as a welcoming community. What might books have to do with that? Let’s ask Mill Mountain Theatre.

Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Theatre has long connected theatre and reading. This year, their outreach performance is of the children’s book Tomás and the Library Lady, adapted by José Cruz González from the book by Pat Mora.

This bilingual play with music follows the story of Tomás Rivera, the son of an immigrant farmworker, as he discovers a surprising world of possibility inside his local library, thanks to a special librarian.

Tomás Rivera was born to a family of migrant farm workers in the South Texas town of Crystal City. In spite of moving constantly to work the crops, he managed to graduate from high school. He went on to obtain a degree in English from Southwest Texas State University, and then earned a master’s degree in Spanish literature and a doctorate in Romance languages and literatures. Rivera became a university administrator, and in 1979 he was appointed chancellor of UC Riverside, a position he held until his sudden death in 1984.

Tomás and the Library Lady is an inspirational, theatrical biography that proves that reading and respect can make anything possible. MMT will perform this free production across the valley to delight families and will distribute free books to student audience members as part of our initiative connecting theatre to literacy. See a schedule of all performances here.

Rivera himself wrote of a young migrant in a short novel that is available in Spanish and English. …y no se lo trago la tierra, or …And the Earth Did Not Devour Him. This story depicts the exploitation of a migrant working family and the challenges of faith in the face of suffering. The themes are more appropriate for adults or older teens.

Join BOOK CITY Roanoke, Mill Mountain Theatre, and the Latinas Network on Saturday, June 26th, for the 10:30 performance of Tomás and the Library Lady. After the performance, we’ll have a discussion of Rivera, his works, and the play.

The performance will take place at 10:30 at the Heights Community Church amphitheater at the heart of Grandin Village (2014 Memorial Avenue SW, Roanoke, VA 24015). The conversation will take place immediately following.

Want to join me? Sign up below, and I’ll send you a reminder as we get closer. Or just show up!

Book No Further may have a copy on the shelf and would be happy to order one for you.

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