Friday, August 20, 2010

On-stage and off-stage drama: new books for teens

School's getting back in gear, and for some that can mean school plays and musicals will be coming soon. Here are some stories about the dramas on- and off-stage that can swirl around a school's first-time actors -- and veterans, too. Copies of these books can be found here on BookBag by typing in the title either in the World Catalog or Amazon search boxes.

Talk, by Kathe Koja (Square Fish) Fiction. Kit only auditioned for the high school play because his best friend, Carma, dared him--but he's been cast as the male lead. (While this may be his first onstage role, Kit has been playing the part of a straight guy for years now, so he's got some acting chops.) Before long, leading lady and insufferable queen bee Lindsay has set her sights on Kit ... with no idea that he only has eyes for Pablo Roy, "last year's first gay Harvest King" and Kit's "true and secret love." Intense emotions, stream-of-consciousness writing, and thought-provoking issues--the controversial play is banned by the school board--make this brief story one that you're sure to remember.

Dramarama, by E. Lockhart (Hyperion) Fiction. Sadye (a.k.a. Sarah) and Demi (a.k.a. Douglas) have shed their ordinary names and are departing their ordinary town of Brenton, Ohio--they're on their way to an eight-week summer theater institute at the Wildewood Academy of Performing Arts, and flamboyant Demi is sure that they're going to be its stars. They're saying goodbye to mean cheerleaders and dowdy math teachers and hello to gold lamé, hissy fits, and jazz hands--that's right, we're talking musical theater. Thespians and fans of Broadway musicals will give this witty and surprising novel a standing ovation!

Eyes Like Stars, by Lisa Mantchev (Feiwel and Friends) Fantasy. Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, a.k.a. Bertie, a.k.a. the Queen of Improvisation, has lived in the enchanted Theatre Illuminata for every one of her 17 years. But irrepressible Bertie's frequent pranks have worn the management's patience thin, and now she must prove her worth to the theater--or be cast out of it forever. With a fantastically described magical world (characters from all of the world's major plays dwell in the theater, held there by an enchanted book); a twisting, turning plot; and plenty of insider jokes and references to please thespians, stagehands, and other drama buffs, Eyes Like Stars will prompt many curtain calls and leave readers clamoring for its sequel, Perchance to Dream.

Reel Culture: 50 Classic Movies You Should Know About (So You Can Impress Your Friends), by Mimi O'Connor (Zest Books) Nonfiction. If you've ever caught your mom or dad laughing at a joke that you didn't get on a TV show like The Simpsons or The Daily Show, chances are that you missed a reference to a famous movie. Chances are even better that said movie is profiled in this book, which catalogs some of the most-quoted, most memorable movies of the 20th century and tells you what's so great (or terrible) about them that they've become part of popular culture. This entertaining "cheat sheet" to recent film history recaps 50 indelible movies (many of them R-rated, FYI), hits their high points, and lists a number of classic quotations from each, such as "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries." (Nope. We're not telling what movie that's from.)

The Four Dorothys, by Paul Ruditis (Simon Pulse) Fiction. "It was a drag queen's worst nightmare," says Bryan Stark, the closeted, "snarkastic" reporter of all the juicy happenings onstage and off during oh-so-exclusive Orion Academy's production of The Wizard of Oz. Bowing to pressure from some well-to-do parents, the musical's director casts four Dorothys, two Glindas, and two Scarecrows. Then strange things start happening to the Dorothys, and Bryan suspects foul play. This 1st of four books (so far) in the Drama! series is a fun, fast-paced read that should appeal to theater buffs and Gossip Girl fans alike.

Saving Juliet, by Suzanne Selfors (Walker & Company) Fiction. The fate of the floundering Wallingford Theater rests with high-school senior Mimi Wallingford, but it's medical school that interests Mimi, not her leading role in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Despite her lack of interest in the family's theatrical dynasty, Mimi bows to pressure from her mother to continue acting. Then Mimi and her leading man, the extremely annoying teen idol Troy Summers, are magically transported to 1594 Verona...where Mimi bonds with the real Juliet and becomes determined to give her a happy ending. Filled with twists and turns, humor, and excitement, Saving Juliet is a rousing and adventurous read.

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