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Topic: Theatre

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.

Chapter book

We three Fossils vow to try to put our name into history books, because it’s our very own, and nobody can say it’s because of our grandfathers.

Pauline, Petrova and Posy Fossil are sisters – with a difference. All three were adopted as babies by Great Uncle Matthew, an eccentric and rich explorer who then disappeared, leaving them in the care of his niece Sylvia. When Sylvia starts to run out of money they hit on an inspired idea: Pauline, Petrova and Posy will attend Madame Fidolia’s Children’s Academy of Dance and Stage Training – and take to the stage. But it’s not long before the Fossils learn that being a star isn’t as easy as they first thought…

Ballet Shoes is the magical, warm-hearted and much loved classic tale of three very different girls who work hard to master their talents.

Chapter book

In the town of Fenchester, seven resourceful children are yearning to be famous. One day, they come across a disused chapel, and an idea is formed. With a lick of paint and the addition of a beautiful curtain (which, however much they try, won’t “swish” as stage curtains ought), the chapel becomes a theatre – and The Blue Door Theatre Company is formed.

The children go from strength to strength, writing, directing and acting in their own plays. But their schooldays are numbered, and their parents want them to pack it in and train for sensible jobs. It seems that The Blue Door Theatre Company will have to go the way of all childhood dreams. But with a bit of luck, and the help of some influential friends, perhaps this is not the end, but only the beginning of their adventures in show business…

Written in 1941 when the author was just 14, The Swish of the Curtain is a classic of children’s literature, and has inspired generations of children to go on stage.

Chapter book

Sweeping across countries, class and music, Eva Ibboton’s classic historical romance, Magic Flutes , is a richly imagined tale of intrigue and identity, with a new introduction from Harriet Evans.

In the spring of 1922, young Austrian Princess Theresa-Maria – known to her ancient aunts as ‘Putzerl’ – abandons her crumbling castle and her royal duties. Disguising herself simply as Tessa, she enrolls as under wardrobe mistress of the International Opera Company and soon loses herself in the intoxicating world of the Viennese opera.

But when Guy Farne, an Englishman looking to impress his new fiance, arrives in Austria and employs the Company to perform at his newly purchased Austrian estate, he finds himself fascinated by the under wardrobe mistress, and Tessa finds it increasingly difficult to keep her two lives separate…

Chapter book

Hope is happiest out of the spotlight, working backstage at her local theatre, so she can’t believe her luck when she lands a top internship on a major show. However, with a Hollywood star cast in the lead, and his young understudy upstaging Hope’s heart, she soon wishes life would stick to the script. Hope has to prove she’s got what it takes. But with a big secret and so much buzz around the show, it isn’t long before Hope finds herself centre stage…

A Hollywood star, a top director, a sold-out show, a major crush…and a girl with everything to prove.

Chapter book

According to the rule, Freddie has to say “yes”.

Freddie is unremarkable – too unremarkable. He doesn’t stand out in any way, and in fact teachers and fellow students keep forgetting who he is. Even his mum thinks he’s a disappointment, and spends almost all her time at work, producing a TV show.

After a particularly awful night when he embarrasses himself in front of Jasper Perry (the gorgeous teen star of his mum’s new show), Freddie decides to follow a new, proactive philosophy designed to transform his social and romantic life: saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity.

It works! Freddie finds himself auditioning for the school musical (Grease), actually going to parties, and flirting with hot new boy Zach! He’s becoming a whole new Freddie – maybe even one that his mum might be proud of.

But the path to love is never smooth, and sometimes getting things very wrong is an important part of figuring out what – and who – you really want.

A funny, heart-pulling read from one of the UK’s leading writers of LGBTQ+ teen fiction.

Chapter book

Summer by the seaside isn’t working out as Callie hoped. Instead of enjoying sunshine and ice cream, she’s stuck helping Gran’s drama group put on a show to save the local theatre. Worst of all, they’ve asked her to star in their play. With Callie’s stage fright, there’s not a chance that’s happening.

But when she goes exploring backstage, Callie stumbles into an altogether different world – another theatre, run by a wise fox and her troupe of rather quarrelsome talking animals. Forced to face her fears, will Callie be able to put on a good show in the final fight to save Madame Malone’s Music Hall?

A cast of creative creatures take centre stage in this theatrical Barrington Stoke debut from Blue Peter Book Award shortlisted author Laura Wood.

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