Tag Archive | theater

Sisters sharing DRIZZLE, DREAMS, AND LOVESTRUCK THINGS, by Maya Prasad (YA book review)

book cover of Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things, by Maya Prasad. Published by Hyperion /Disney | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Four sisters,
four seasons,
five chances for love…

For the past decade, the four teen Singh sisters have lived in the Songbird Inn on Orcas Island, where their widowed father met and married Pop as they renovated the old property together. But three years ago, the girls’ beloved stepdad died, before he could see their dream named as “the most romantic inn in America” for its unique seaside weddings.

Nidhi has planned her senior year and beyond in great detail as she will head to pastry school in Paris after graduation, with boyfriend Matt. A tree crashing through her bedroom brings Grayson and construction crew to the inn – how will his secret artistic passions affect her carefully ordered life this fall?

Avani has spent the winter avoiding Francisco after a date mix-up, not so easy when his family supplies produce and goat cheese to the inn daily. Her grief for Pop lingers even as Dad begins seeing Amir, so she decides to revive his beloved Winter Ball in his memory, finding that Francisco’s help can make it happen.

Spring on the is photographer Sirisha’s favorite season, and hosting the Thousand Shores theater troupe at the Inn makes it even better – brown girls, queer girls, stories turned and retold. And beautiful Brie leaves her tongue-tied, even as the young actress tries to help Sirisha find the story that will help her photos win the San Juan Snaps contest.

Queen of Romance – Rani’s deep love of romance novels has helped her twin Avani and her older and younger sisters find happiness this past year. As they prepare for the biggest summer wedding of all, which inn visitor will be her happily ever after – socially-conscious Vikram, fun and sporty Leo, or Raj who didn’t kiss her last summer?

A wonderful year in Washington’s Pacific Northwest with the Singh family as they work through past issues with family still in India, decide what their futures might look like, and host a parade of interesting guests in the beautiful inn that they call home.

Where would you build the best inn ever?
**kmm

Book info: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things / Maya Prasad. Hyperion, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Here? Now? THE SECRET BATTLE OF EVAN PAO starts at school! by Wendy Wan-Long Shang (MG book review)

book cover of The Secret Battle of Evan Pao / Wendy Wan-Long Shang.  Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bad enough that they have to move across the country to get away from Dad’s financial scams, but in this little Virginia town stuck in its Civil War history, their Chinese family does stand out, even though their uncle has lived here a while.

Evan hopes that sixth grade will be okay, but the class bully lives across the street from their tiny rental house. Brady calls Covid-19 “the China virus” and asks if Evan will bring it to Battlefield Elementary School. Evan can sense that he really believes that – yikes!

Luckily, most kids in his class are nice, including Max who’s assigned as Evan’s buddy and explains Battlefield Day, Mrs. Norwood’s favorite activity, where everyone becomes a Civil War character in costume for an outside learning experience.

Each student in class brings in a family heirloom from the Civil War, except Evan, so Mrs. Norwood suggests that he choose a behind-the-scenes role, like scribe (boring). Evan’s sister says there were no Chinese in the American Civil War, but a little research shows that she’s wrong!

So while Brady can portray his noted sharpshooter ancestor, Evan can be a Chinese soldier in the Army of the Potomac – Mrs. Norwood’s final Battlefield Day before retiring should be quite memorable!

Other things in town are rumbling, like discussions on removing the Confederate soldier statue in front of the courthouse and the cute stray dog that Uncle and Evan find (maybe Mom will change her mind about ‘no dogs’!) and someone shooting at Evan’s house!

Evan tells most of the story, with chapters by his sister Celeste and friend Max, even Julia and Brady from his class providing additional viewpoints.

What’s something that’s “always been this way” about your town that you would change?
**kmm

Book info: The Secret Battle of Evan Pao / Wendy Wan-Long Shang. Scholastic Press, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Look again – THAT WAY MADNESS LIES: 15 OF SHAKESPEARE’S MOST NOTABLE WORKS REIMAGINED, ed. by Dahlia Adler (YA book review)

book cover of That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare's Most Notable Works Reimagined / Dahlia Adler, ed.
Published by Flatiron Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Ah, the Bard!
His classic plays.
retold and retold – now with a twist!

A brooding bad boy becomes obsessed with a young ballerina from a rival high school – Romeo and Juliet, told completely in text messages.

Finally! Among the everlasting whiteness of the Fairy Court, the brown girl stolen from the mundane world as a baby sees another indigenous person in a gender-queer Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Not madness but anger drives Anne to unmask the vampire who killed her father, allowing her uncle to marry Mother for control of Elsinore in 1892 – the journals and letters of an educated young woman rewind the Hamlet narrative.

This anthology includes reimaginings by YA writers (famous and rising)

Dahlia Adler (The Merchant of Venice),
Kayla Ancrum (The Taming of the Shrew),
Lily Anderson (As You Like It),
Patrice Caldwell (Hamlet),
Melissa Bashardoust (A Winter’s Tale),
A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy (Much Ado About Nothing),
Brittany Cavallaro (Sonnet 147),
Joy McCullough (King Lear),
Anna-Marie McLemore (A Midsummer Night’s Dream),
Samantha Mabry (Macbeth),
Tochi Onyebuchi (Coriolanus),
Mark Oshiro (Twelfth Night),
Lindsay Smith (Julius Caesar),
Kiersten White (Romeo and Juliet),
Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (The Tempest)

Each story is introduced by a quote from Shakespeare’s work, and often followed by author’s notes.

Shakespeare wrote in the everyday words of his time; these reimagined works bring his works into our time with clever twists and setting changes (outer space, a school dance, a rooftop greenhouse).

What’s your favorite quotation from the Bard?
**kmm

Book info: That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare’s Most Notable Works Reimagined / Dahlia Adler, ed.
Flatiron Books, hardcover 2021, paperback 2022. [editor site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the author.

V is for VIOLETS ARE BLUE, Wren and her makeup are, too, by Barbara Dee (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Violets Are Blue, by Barbara Dee.Published by Aladdin / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

New town, new school,
same Mom, new stepmom,
same worries, plus some…

They move the summer after the divorce, after her sixth grade sort-of-friends abandon her, after Wren starts learning to do special effects makeup, after Dad marries pregnant Vanessa in faraway Brooklyn.

Wren hides the high-quality makeup that Vanessa buys so she can create mermaids and super-characters like KatFX videos show. Mom adds a lock to her bedroom door to keep the cat out… huh?

When her skills catch the attention of new friends, Wren is asked to do makeup for the school play – turning snooty Avery into so-green Elphaba might be fun.

Kai is really talented – draws superheroes, runs sound and lights for the play. Wren hopes he doesn’t really have a crush on her.

Mom’s an ER nurse on different shifts, sleeps all the time she’s home, pill bottles under the sink… now she’s missing work.

Why can’t Wren make KatFX’s mermaid instructions work?
How can she keep Kai as just a friend?
Why did Dad say she could call him about anything?

Seventh grade year is full of tension for Wren as she tries to balance two families and navigate too many changes at the same time.

When someone you love is in trouble, how do you know when to help?
**kmm

Book info: Violets Are Blue / Barbara Dee. Aladdin / Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

L is LOVELESS – dating and kissing just don’t appeal to her, by Alice Oseman (YA book review) #A2Z

US book cover of Loveless, by Alice Oseman. Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Never been kissed,
nor in a relationship –
maybe at college…

Like everyone in her family, Georgia is a romantic about romance, the happily-ever-after forever kind. The British teen just doesn’t fancy anyone in that way, not even a celebrity crush.

Surely she’ll find a relationship at university – she knows her best friends Jason and Pip will. It’s so weird to be living in different student housing across Durham instead of seeing them hours every day…

So with her new roommate Rooney, the 18-year-old tries to be brave and meet new people during Freshers Week as freshmen check out social societies to join on campus. Their upper-class mentors (‘college parents’) help them adjust to university life.

At her college parent Sunil’s urging, Georgia gets on the Pride Soc mailing list, then joins Rooney, Pip, and Jason in the not-quite-fully-registered Shakespeare Society.

UK book cover of of Loveless, by Alice Oseman. Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com
UK cover

Pip goes with her to some Pride social nights, Jason decides to be more than friends with Georgia, and she’s still not sure how a handful of people will be able to perform a Shakespeare play so the society can become official with the university.

How will Pip react to Jason-and-Georgia as a new relationship?
Will Georgia find love or lose friendship there?
Asexual, aromantic – maybe helpful words for her to consider?

A crisis in Shakespeare Society just before opening night pulls them together as Georgia’s first year at university is quite different than she envisioned.

When has found-family kept you going?
**kmm

Book info: Loveless / Alice Oseman. Scholastic Press, 2021. [author Facebook] [US publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

D = When it comes to helping people, KARTHIK DELIVERS! by Sheela Chari (MG book review)

book cover of Karthik Delivers, by Sheela Chari. Published by Amulet Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Family dream threatened,
changes coming,
friends will get him through it.

Delivering groceries for the family store isn’t what Karthik had planned for the summer before high school, but during this bad economy in 2008, maybe it will help.

At least he’s not stuck indoors studying for the SAT like big sister. She will be the lawyer, he will be the doctor, his Indian-American parents have decided (Mom’s dream job, not his – Karthik gets woozy at the sight of blood…).

Big orders or small, his bike carries them all – to old Mr. Jain who loves to talk about cricket scores, to the lady who always orders two extra-ripe mangoes, to the college student who’s writing a play and wants Karthik in the role of Leonard Bernstein as a young man!

Who knew that the famous musician and conductor grew up here in their Boston suburb? Shanthi is sure that Karthik’s gift for perfectly remembering long lists will help him memorize the short script; he’s not so sure that his parents will let him perform for her final exam in August.

Between deliveries, he meets his friends Miles and Binh for ice cream (he knows all 50 flavors) while hoping cute classmate Juhi comes in without the bullies she hangs out with now (not likely).

The more he studies the script and Bernstein’s life and music, the more the teen identifies with this son of immigrants who went on to do great things – but what does Karthik want to do with his life?

As he delivers their groceries, Karthik gets to know his customers and helps when they need a hand – what will they do if the store can’t keep going?

Oh no! It’s Juhi’s uncle who owns new chaat restaurant whose fast-fast food is stealing away the little grocery store’s customers – is this West Side Story all over again?

Happy book birthday to Karthik Delivers – let’s hope he tells his family about the play sooner rather than later!

What dream have you put on hold? When will you launch it again?
**kmm

Book info: Karthik Delivers / Sheela Chari. Amulet Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

CARRY ME HOME, family comes first, always! by Janet Fox (MG book review)

book cover of Carry Me Home, by Janet Fox. Published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Living in their car,
keeping sister safe –
staying strong… how long?

Lulu likes this small Montana town with its library and food bank and laundromat. The twelve year old and little sister Serena go to school, and Dad has found work. But no one knows they’re living in their car or that Mama died back in Texas.

Thankful for the coats given out as cold weather comes in, Lulu stays quiet at school even though snooty Deana’s friends make fun of her out of style clothes. Lively classmate Jack gives Lulu his milk at lunch every day and asks her to try out for the school musical. Serena learns to fold origami paper cranes, just like in the book that Lulu’s class read.

One morning, Dad leaves before the girls wake up and doesn’t come home that night, or the next…

Serena and Lulu can’t tell anyone, or Social Services will separate them, like they tried to when Aunt Ruth got tired of keeping the girls when Daddy left after Mama died – but he came back then, so he’ll come back now, right?

Daddy’s wallet in the car has enough money for a week’s RV park rent and a bit more – what will they do when that runs out?

Lulu auditions for the musical – what if rehearsals run longer than Serena’s afterschool care hours?

Early fall snow means Lulu can’t cook outside – how will they stay warm all night in the car without eating a hot dinner?

As she folds paper cranes to grant her wish that Daddy will come back soon, Lulu does her best to keep up with what she and Serena need to get by… alone.

What services for homeless families does your town have?
**kmm

Book Info: Carry Me Home / Janet Fox. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

One night only! It’s the BATTLE OF THE BANDS anthology, ed. by Lauren Gibaldi & Eric Smith (YA book review)

book cover of Battle of the Bands, edited by Lauren Gibaldi & Eric Smith. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

On stage, behind the scenes, in the audience,
taking tickets, selling merchandise –
all connected by local teen musicians!

Sixteen authors bring us interlinking stories that center around the annual Battle of the Bands at a suburban New Jersey high school from many points of view.

Solo acts and long-standing bands, breakups and first kisses, new friends and old grudges, family ties that bend and stretch (but will they break?).

Most stories begin before The Big Night with characters appearing in more than one narrative, just like the overlapping circles of acquaintance at the high school… or the first-time interactions at the Battle itself.

Get this book now at your local library or independent bookstore – just published last week!

I rarely read books twice, but I honestly can’t wait to reread this one, now that I’ve met so many characters as they gather for the music, the friendship, and the best Battle of the Bands ever!

What’s your favorite concert story?
**kmm

Book Info: Battle of the Bands / Lauren Gilbaldi & Eric Smith, editors. Candlewick Press, 2021. ISBN 9781536214338 (Lauren’s site) (Eric’s site) (publisher site)

Stories by Brittany Cavallaro, Preeti Chhibber, Jay Coles, Katie Cotugno, Lauren Gibaldi, Shaun David Hutchinson, Ashley Poston, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Sarah Nicole Smetana, Eric Smith, Jenn Marie Thorne, Sarvenaz Taghavian, Jasmine Warga, Ashley Woodfolk, and Jeff Zentner, and featuring Motion City Soundtrack’s Justin Courtney Pierre.

How can life’s rarities outlast everyday reality? Audiobooks show us more!

Time to download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

Remember to save these complete audiobooks to your Sora shelf (FAQs here) from Thursday through Wednesday so you can access them any time on your phone or device.

If you missed the free download of earlier AudioSYNC recommendations, be sure to check through your local public library!

CD cover of audiobook Crescendo:The Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town,
by Allen Cheney, Julie Cantrell [Contributor].Read by Allen Cheney. Published by Thomas Nelson | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Crescendo: The Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town (free download on Sora 10-16 June 2021)
by Allen Cheney, Julie Cantrell [Contributor]
Read by Allen Cheney
Published by Thomas Nelson

Bullied in his small Georgia hometown, musical genius Fred Allen escapes to New York City where his talent is appreciated and applauded.

The musician’s wife and family support his dreams, even when the long-term effects of childhood trauma darken his outlook. This biography is written and narrated by Allen’s grandson with love and hope.

CD cover of audiobook Extinction,
by Hannie Rayson. Read by Seamus Dever, Sarah Drew, Darren Richardson, Joanne Whalley. Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Extinction (free download on Sora 10-16 June 2021)
by Hannie Rayson
Read by Seamus Dever, Sarah Drew, Darren Richardson, Joanne Whalley
Published by L.A. Theatre Works

Spotting a tiger-quoll in the wild means the endangered Australian carnivorous marsupial could be saved from extinction… if the American zoologist who finds it can convince a greedy timber baron to spare its habitat.

How can the rare and wonderful be saved from everyday life’s brutality and greed?
**kmm

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.