Booklist: Children's books about theatre

Books about stage and threatre
The Animals of Madame Malone's Music Hal

Laura Wood, author of The Animals of Madame Malone's Music Hall, has picked her top five recommended books for children and teens about being on stage. 

Laura's new book explores the topic of helping to save a music hall - and despite being written pre-pandemic, its publication comes at a time when local theatres need support more than ever. Read on for a guest booklist from Laura, all about her favourite fictional moments of being on stage on children's books.

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Ballet Shoes
Noel Streatfield

One of the greatest books of all time. I reread the story of Pauline, Petrova and Posy Fossil taking to the stage regularly. I love escaping into the warm, gentle world of these characters, the way you get to really enjoy backstage life, and how it celebrates young women with talent and ambition. (Ages 8-12)

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The Swish of the Curtain
Pamela Brown

An absolutely gorgeous, old-fashioned book that has inspired many of our greatest actors! I loved reading this as a child and I love reading it now – it gives children such agency, and takes their dreams seriously. I love the creativity of the Blue Door Theatre Company, and all the different roles they play on and off stage. (Ages 7-12)

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Magic Flutes
Eva Ibbotson

One of my favourite books by my favourite writer. Magic Flutes is about an Austrian Princess who has run off to become a wardrobe assistant for the International Opera Company. It’s a dreamy, romantic indulgence of a book that takes tremendous pleasure in the world of art and music, and I love it.  (Ages 12+)

Maggie Harcourt

I love Maggie Harcourt’s writing, and this book is such a treat for any theatre enthusiast. Hope’s dreams of working backstage in a theatre are realised when she wins an internship, but chaos (and romance) ensue. It’s a real love letter to what goes on behind the scenes of a production, and a total joy to read. (Ages 14+)

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You’re The One That I Want 
Simon James Green

This one’s a bit of a cheat as it won’t be coming out until June, but as a HUGE Simon James Green fan I was delighted to hear that he was writing a book about an awkward teenage boy landing a role in the school’s production of Grease. Expect Simon’s trademark wit and humour, and plenty of back stage shenanigans! (Ages 14+)

The Animals of Madame Malone's Music Hal
The Animals of Madame Malone's Music Hall 
Laura Wood & Ellie Snowdon

Laura's own book The Animals of Madame Malone's Music Hall is a charming tale of believing in one's self and the importance of community, with a cast of creative creatures taking centre stage and a super-readable and dyslexia-friendly format.

Summer by the seaside with Gran isn’t exactly what Callie expected. Instead of sunshine and ice cream, she’s stuck helping Gran’s drama group save their local theatre. Worst of all, they’ve asked her to star in their play. But when she goes exploring backstage, Callie stumbles into an altogether different world – another theatre, run by a wise fox and her troupe of talking animals. And the strangest part of all? Callie’s set to play the lead in their show too. Forced to face her fears will Callie be up to the challenge of saving Madame Malone’s Music Hall? 

Wildly imaginative with an unusual array of animal characters and a sensitive message of self-belief, this uplifting story will appeal to animal lovers and fans of the theatre alike.

(Ages 8+ / 'super-readable ' format).

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