Writer: Dr. Seuss
Target age: 5-9
Plot/characters: There’s plenty of story, as Once-ler robs resources and litters the world with his unnecessary invention, but braggy Once-ler and naggy Lorax aren’t exactly nuanced.
Making it a play: Channeling his inner Seuss, David Greig explored the characters’ flawed humanity, invented words that rhyme with “Lorax” (“There’s ‘thorax,’ but you can only use that once”) and came up with some redemption to take the edge off the book’s bleak conclusion.
Busy, Busy Town
Writer: Richard Scarry
Target age: 3-7 years
Plot/characters: There are lots of characters — bears, sloths and owls taking on the jobs of nurses, construction workers and firefighters — but we don’t know a thing about any of them.
Making it a play: For CTC’s “Busytown,” which premiered in 2014, playwright Kevin Kling concocted little vignettes that connect the activities of the busy animals to each other.
Writer: Don Freeman
Target age: 2-5
Plot/characters: The characters are there, even if they’re briefly glimpsed, as is the outline of a story about Lisa, a girl who longs for a teddy bear she spots in a department store.
Making it a play: Barry Kornhauser, whose script debuted in April, beefed up the dauntless Night Watchman who is on the trail of teddy bear Corduroy, added a couple of mischievous mannequins and imagined a home life for Lisa.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Writer: Laura Numeroff
Target age: 4-8
Plot/characters: The cookie doesn’t say much. Otherwise, there’s a mouse and, um, well ...
Making it a play: In the CTC version that premiered in 2008, we learn more about the boy who gives the mouse a cookie, and there’s an extended bit in which the mouse re-enacts an adventure story that is being read to him.
The Snowy Day
Writer: Ezra Jack Keats
Target age: 2-5
Plot/characters: Peter — who puts on his snowsuit, makes snow angels and tries to save a snowball in his pocket — is the only real character. Even dolled up with beatboxing, it takes less than four minutes to get through the animated story online.
Making it a play: The book was augmented by a couple of other Keats stories to fill out the play for CTC’s 2016 staging, a tactic also used for Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”