When you are a (nearly) teenage aspiring actress, sometimes it feels like "all the world's a stage," but Beth Sondquist's favorite stage is about to be repossessed.
For 12 1/2–year-old Beth, acting at Oakfield Children's Theater is her entire life. Though primarily cast in small roles, she dreams of someday playing Shakespeare's most famous teen heroine: Juliet. But after eavesdropping on a conversation with the theater's new owner, Beth learns that the 50-year-old children's theater is to be converted into an adult performance space. To save her stage, Beth must help prove that children's theater is more than mere playtime. For Wetzel, the theater serves as both muse and pulpit from which she fights the notion that children (and their theatrical pursuits) are less serious than grown-ups. Although some characters fit into conventional types, the novel effectively captures the cadence and essence of preteen-speak and the intense, hyperbolic feeling of life onstage, when flubbing a line or missing an entrance is as catastrophic as being grounded. While Beth's zeal for theater rings true, however, at times her incessant demonstration of theater knowledge feels less organic than it should. Beth's adventures drive the narrative, but often she is upstaged by theater itself, which feels like the real star of the show.
An earnest and creditable effort that will resonate with thespians both young and old. (Fiction. 8-12)