Tomás and The Library Lady celebrates the power of reading and imagination

TEMPE – Tomás and the Library Lady tells the true story of Tomás Rivera, a Chicano author, poet and educator who found an unlikely friend in a librarian when he was a young boy. Rivera’s empowering story inspired Pat Mora to write a book telling his story which Childsplay will bring to life for families at Tempe Center for the Arts Oct. 21 through Nov. 12, 2017, Saturdays at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m.

Tomás, the son of migrant workers, was born in Texas and loves the stories Papa Grande tells to him. One day while his family is in Iowa picking crops, Tomás meets the Library Lady and nothing is ever the same again. Soon his imagination takes off as he reads book after book, discovering a world filled with dinosaurs, tigers, and explorers! Childsplay brings back this bilingual play with music for a brand new audience.

“I believe that Tomás and the Library Lady is an empowering story for young people because it speaks about following your dreams, about using your imagination, the power of reading books and making new friends,” said Playwright José Cruz González.

Tickets start at $12 and are on sale now at or at the Tempe Center for the Arts Box Office (480) 350-2822 (ext. 2). The play is recommended for ages 5 and up. Tempe Center for the Arts is located at 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, AZ 85281.

While creating the play, González researched the life of Tomás Rivera, contacted his widow and brother and even visited the Tomás Rivera Library at the University of California at Riverside.

“As I dug into the story of the real Tomás Rivera, I found so much to add into the [play] adaptation,” said González.

Since premiering the play in 2006, the show has embarked on four statewide tours and two national tours. The play will hit the road for a third national tour in the 2018-2019 season.

Tomás and The Library Lady features Enrique Guevara as Tomás and Elizabeth Polen as The Library Lady.

Director: David Saar

Costume & Scenic Design: Holly Windingstad

Lighting Design: Kara Ramlow

Music Director: Tommy Strawser

Sound & Media Design: Anthony Runfola

Stage Manager: Koryn Weiman

Tomás and the Library Lady was written by José Cruz González, based on the book by Pat Mora.

The 1 p.m. performance on Saturday, October 21 is a special $12 Storybook Preview performance, sponsored by The Steele Foundation. Each family that attends this General Admission preview performance will receive a free book. The American Sign Language (ASL) performance is Sunday, Nov. 5 at 1 p.m.

About Childsplay:

Childsplay, Inc. is a nonprofit theatre company of professional, adult artists who perform for and teach young audiences and their families. The mission of Childsplay is “to create theatre so strikingly original in form, content or both, that it instills in young people an enduring awe, love and respect for the medium, thus preserving imagination and wonder, the hallmarks of childhood which are keys to the future.” For more information, visit