Tag Archive | theater

N for NOAH MCNICHOL & THE BACKSTAGE GHOST! by Martha Freeman (MG book review)

Book cover of Noah McNichol and the Backstage Ghost, by Martha Freeman. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Skulls and fake blood and foam swords,
“there are no small parts, only small players”
The play’s the thing!

Dad says wanting to act is just a phase, so the sixth grade play is Noah’s big chance to be on stage! Oh no – the drama teacher is out so the PE coach will direct them… in Hamlet?

Luckily, an older Jewish guy named Mike volunteers to help because strange things are happening while Coach Fig spends rehearsals on his phone!

The “No-Trauma Drama” script now has its original gruesome ending, the costumes and sets are way better than previous years’ Hamlet, and a cold breeze drifts backstage when all the doors are closed.

Despite not being cast as Hamlet, Noah is enjoying play practice and Mike’s interesting advice… and watching Mike vanish into thin air – is their guest director a ghost?

Noah’s college professor parents are arguing again about which subjects are more important – why is Dad the physics teacher so angry about literature?

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is way more interesting than the family-friendly version written by the lady who donated the school’s nice theater – can they do the real one without interference?

Suddenly, their drama club one-night-only performance is the hot ticket in their New York town – break a leg!

Conversing with someone long gone – yes or no?
**kmm

Book info: Noah McNichol and the Backstage Ghost / Martha Freeman. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

L is for LOVE & OLIVES, by Jenna Evans Welch (YA book review)

book cover of Love & Olives, by Jenna Evans Welch. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Ten days away from Seattle, that’s all,
her artist’s eyes setting up camera angles,
heart breaking because her dad will leave again…

White buildings reflecting sunlight, the sparkling blue Aegean Sea – the Greek island of Santorini has captivated visitors for centuries, but sixteen year old Liv doesn’t want to be impressed by its beauty.

Neither does she intend to quickly forgive her long-estranged father for suddenly interrupting her summer plans by bringing her here for a filming project about their mutual fascination – the lost city of Atlantis.

On a tight schedule, she and dad’s young cameraman Theo crisscross the island to filming locations – why is Dad sometimes a no-show?

Dad is utterly convinced that he can prove the site of Atlantis to the scientific community – what exactly is he trying to prove to Liv?

Sleeping in a hidden nook of Theo’s family bookstore, glorious sunsets, more questions than answers in the village her dad returned to after emigrating to America – how much can 10 days change?

Each chapter is headed by an item from Liv’s list of 26 things left behind by her dad, a list kept close at hand as she and Mom moved often, struggling until meeting now-stepdad James.

A story of journeying from home to learn about love, from the author of Love & Gelato (my review) and Love & Luck (review here).

Where do you need to go to make an old story into a new truth?
**kmm

E is empowering words by THE LIGHTNING DREAMER: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist, by Margarita Engle (YA book review)

book cover of The Lightning Dreamer, by Margarita Engle. Published by Harcourt | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Reading is escape.
Forbidden now, freedom removed –
She will tell new stories!

Of course she must marry someday, but Tula is told by her grandfather that the highest bidder will claim her next year, that her mother and stepfather will gain enough money in 1828 to buy more slaves to save their Cuban sugar plantation from ruin, that the thirteen year old’s too-brief time with her late father’s books will end forever.

Sent to wait at the convent, Tula meets nuns who accept every child abandoned because their skin is darker, who save every book they can find, who allow her to read the silenced poet Heredia’s calls for equality.

She writes plays and allegories that hide freedom’s songs within folktales, hiding them in her brother’s room. She dreams with her best friends of marriage based on love. She is betrayed, and yet continues composing messages of hope.

As the abolition of slavery is discussed publicly in America’s north, silence reigns on the island of Cuba, enforced by the whip and imprisonment. But what prison bars can keep captive the words of truth?

This novel-in-verse by the author of Jazz Owls (my review) and With a Star in My Hand (my review) sprinkles the voices of Mama, the nuns, and others among Tula’s poems about dreams, love, and a better future for all. Based on the life of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda (1814-1873).

What are your powerful dreams?
**kmm

Book info: The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist / Margarita Engle. Harcourt, hardcover 2013, paperback 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

A SONG ONLY I CAN HEAR tempts him to dare, by Barry Jonsberg (book review)

book cover of A Song Only I Can Hear, by Barry Jonsberg. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Try something new?
Stay quiet as a mouse?
Show his true self to the world?
Better choose well…

Rob is utterly smitten with the new girl in his class and too tongue-tied to even say hello. Easier to play chess with his grandfather every afternoon at the old folks’ home.

But when text messages from an unknown number challenge the 13 year old to get out of his comfort zone if he wants to succeed, Rob enters his Australian town’s youth talent show, even though public speaking gives him panic attacks.

Inspired by another text, non-sporty Rob tries out for the soccer team because Destry likes athletes – and makes the team as goalie! (but no changing in the locker room…)

Publically protesting the environmental damages of meat production gets Rob featured in the newspaper, as one text challenged, and also sent to the principal’s office for the very first time.

Bad at math, he can count on best pal Andrew and sailor-mouthed grandad.

Great in English, Rob struggles to write the perfect poem for Destry!

Will the Vietnam War ghosts ever stop tormenting his grandad?
When will Daniel stop bullying Rob?

As the mysterious texts continue, Rob moves slowly off his path of comforting routines and begins to find himself, despite how others see him.

What challenge would you like to see in your inbox?
**kmm

Book info: A Song Only I Can Hear / Barry Jonsberg. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020 (USA). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Among P.T. Barnum’s wonders, WE ARE ALL HIS CREATURES, by Deborah Noyes (book review)

Book cover of We Are All His Creatures, by Deborah Noyes. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The greatest showman!
Spotlight on him!
Overshadowing all others to reach his dreams…

Barnum’s museum of wonders captivates New York in 1842, yet his daughters feel he cares about the mermaid more than he loves them, would rather transform a little person into General Tom Thumb than tell them stories.

Jo is the decoy, drawing away mobs of fans so that famed opera singer Jenny Lind can safely make her way to each performance hall on Barnum’s 1851 tour, ever in her best friend’s shadow.

At home on her father’s lavish estate in Connecticut, only twelve year old Helen and the Barnum menagerie sense the presence of little sister Frances’ ghost who’s angry enough to wreak havoc as big sister Caroline’s 1852 wedding day approaches.

In 1868, no one can know that the Bearded Lady has a son! Mr. Barnum runs a most respectable establishment, and news of her illegitimate child would doom them both. Luckily, the American Museum is so crowded that Jack can sketch the animals with no one the wiser.

This double-handful of tales re-imagines the lives, dreams, and worries of people locked into their orbits around the self-created brilliance of “there’s a sucker born every minute” Barnum.

Is it ever right for the difference of others to be a show for the rest?
**kmm

Book info: We Are All His Creatures: Tales of P. T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman / Deborah Noyes. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Q for KINGS, QUEENS, AND IN-BETWEENS, by Tanya Boteju (book review)

book cover of Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens, by Tanya Boteju. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Nima’s boring summer takes a twist when the 17 year old visits a drag show at the local arts festival and meets the incomparable diva Deidre and drag king Winnow.

Her white dad moves through life in slow motion since Mom left last year, best friend Charles keeps her from total despair, but when surprisingly straight Ginny crushes her heart, awkward Nima feels completely adrift.

Discovering an amazing drag scene in the next town – that welcomes teens – Nima decides to let her true self shine, with Deidre helping her debut as a drag prince.

Will Mom ever drift back into their lives?
Can Nima and Winnow truly connect?
Why is bully Gordon hanging around the edges of Nima’s new circle?

Love, acceptance, risk, friendship – Nima wants to find her self and her place as a person in this debut novel of change and discovery. Read the first chapter here free, courtesy of the publisher.

How much do we let outside adornments interfere with true personal connections?
**kmm

Book info: Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens / Tanya Boteju. Simon Pulse, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

N for DARING DARLENE, QUEEN OF THE SCREEN, by Anne Nesbet (MG book review)

book cover of Daring Darleen, Queen of the Screen, by Anne Nesbet. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Adventure, danger, action!
Motion picture camera rolling,
try to escape the real bad guys!

“What the public wants” in 1914 is train wrecks and car chases, so the family motion picture studio puts Darleen in one seemingly perilous scene after another for their popular serial photoplay. The twelve year old is secretly thrilled; her widowed Papa is not.

But her uncles’ new idea of having her fake-kidnapped at a New York City theater grand opening so they can try night-filming an episode of “The Dangers of Darleen” goes awry when real kidnappers get her and a young heiress!

Victorine and Darleen must get away from the ruthless gang, but there aren’t trick movie locks or melted-sugar windowpanes or secret passageways in this dingy old house!

What if Victorine’s guardian won’t pay the ransom?
Why is grumpy teen Jasper from the studio seen nearby?
Could Darleen be taken away from Papa like her dear mama was?

Go back to the age of the Silver Screen before Hollywood and talkies, when a New Jersey studio could produce thrilling silent movies, and our young heroine Darleen can use her stage skills to pull off a real-life escape!

New this week! Request it from your local independent bookstore via Bookshop.org or on your library’s website!

What adventure would you choose, if you knew there was always the chance for a retake?
**kmm

Book info: Daring Darleen, Queen of the Screen / Anne Nesbet. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Tragedy, tragedy! Hear now the tales…on audiobooks.

Is evil inherent in every person?
Or must you be with others to become bad?
Listen to this week’s tales to find out!

Here’s our new Thursday-Wednesday pair of FREE professionally produced audiobooks from AudiobookSYNC .

Click on the CD title link you want, enter your name and email address at the AudioSync page, then download either or both professionally produced audiobooks to enjoy for as long as you keep the file on your device.

CD cover of Othello,  by William Shakespeare | Read by Ewan McGregor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kelly Reilly, Edward Bennett, James Laurenson, Tom Hiddleston, Alastair Sims, David Mara, Michael Hadley, Michael Jenn, Michelle Fairley, Martina Laird Published by Naxos AudioBooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Othello, by William Shakespeare.

Read by Ewan McGregor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kelly Reilly, Edward Bennett, James Laurenson, Tom Hiddleston, Alastair Sims, David Mara, Michael Hadley, Michael Jenn, Michelle Fairley, Martina Laird. Published by Naxos AudioBooks

Othello’s raging jealousy and Iago’s sly treachery thunder and whisper through this tragedy, with original music complementing Shakespeare’s classic play.

CD cover of You,  by Charles Benoit | Read by David Baker Published by Full Cast Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

You, by Charles Benoit. Read by David Baker. Published by Full Cast Audio

The tedium of underachieving Kyle’s sophomore year is broken by the arrival of new guy Zack, cruel and quirky. Boredom and blood in this thriller told completely in second-person… what will You do next, Kyle?

Can someone evil ever be redeemed?
**kmm

N = NEVERWORLD WAKE where time repeats, repeats, by Marisha Pessl (YA book review)

book cover of Neverworld Wake, by Marissa Pessl. Published by Delacorte Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

One year later,
questions unanswered,
they can’t move past his death

They’ve endured a year without Jim, their graduation without his snarky brilliance, their pre-college summer without the play he was writing, a season and another without their spark, without Beatrice’s boyfriend.

Her friends keep calling, but Beatrice stays in her parents’ Rhode Island house, until the anniversary of Jim’s death finally pulls her to the seaside mansion where they spent so many weekends with their friends away from the private school where he was found dead.

When a stranger at the door tells the group that time has stuck in a loop for them until they agree on a difficult, terrifying, terrible choice, Beatrice knows they must go back to the scene of Jim’s death and puzzle out how (and why) he really died.

Not a mere nightmare they can wake up from – if they don’t make a unanimous decision, they’ll all be trapped in the Neverworld Wake forever!

A psychological thriller and YA debut by the author of Special Topics in Calamity Physics.

What mystery would invisible-you go back to solve?
**kmm

Book info: Neverworld Wake / Marisha Pessl. Delacorte Press, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

G is for ghosts, INVISIBLE GHOSTS, by Robyn Schneider (YA book review)

book cover of Invisible Ghosts, by Robyn Schneider. Published by Katherine Tegen Books /Harper Collins | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The dead are still with us,
in memories, special places,
or in person…

Yeah, older brother Logan isn’t moving on, stuck at age 15 and only visible to Rose as she grows up and goes to high school. He’s not a very happy ghost.

When Jamie moves back to town, Rose decides that participating in the world of the living again may be okay.

Logan does not agree, and when Logan’s unhappy, things start going wrong, very wrong.

By the author of Extraordinary Means (recommended here).

Ghosts, special psychic gifts… what do you think?
**kmm

Book info: Invisible Ghosts / Robyn Schneider. Katherine Tegen Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Only Rose can see the ghost of her big brother, and as she begins her junior year, the California teen realizes that he’s not happy that she’s grown older without him, and an unhappy Logan is dangerous indeed!

Mom and Dad told them to look out for each other, and Logan takes this very seriously, even after his death four years ago from bee stings, especially since Rose’s friend Jamie just moved back to town, grown-up and handsome and still funny.

Jamie fits right in with the theater crowd, nudging Rose from the ignored edge of high school cliques into actual conversations with classmates.

And Jamie can actually see Logan… and Logan doesn’t like him hanging around Rose!

If Logan only knew what Jamie can do to ghosts…