2017 Debut Book Love: How to Stage a Catastrophe

Book Review | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comHave I said how much I love my fellow middle grade debut authors? If not, I mean to. Everyday.

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten an ARC (advanced reader copy) of one of my fellow middle grade debut friends in the mail, but then, on a cold, dark Halloween day, Rebecca Donnelly’s super fun HOW TO STAGE A CATASTROPHE showed up in my mail box and saved my life.

Part play – part novel – and all funny, I read this book in short bursts – not letting myself gobble it up in one sitting. And I totally fell for the characters. Sid and Folly are smart and funny and full of good (and not-so-good) ideas, and just the kind of kids you want to hang out with. Even the adults in this book are great. And despite the spot-on descriptions of Florida heat, I kind of wanted to move to Hatahatchee and spend some time backstage at the Juicebox Theater.

How to Stage a CatastropheHow to Stage a Catastrophe by Rebecca Donnelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such a fun read! Hilarious and heart-warming, Sidney and company’s quest to save the Juicebox Theater is a joy to read. The characters are fantastic – smart and funny and kind – but full of wild ideas just the same. Great for theater lovers, theater wanna-be’s, and anyone who loves a good play (and a few chase scenes!), Donnelly’s story will keep you reading and laughing and longing for the next performance. The creative design and chapter structure is just an added treat.

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For readers:

  • A great set of fun and smart characters who are getting things done.
  • Theater stuff – behind the scenes and on the stage.
  • Friendship, fun, and a really awesome dog.

For teachers

  • Great structure – and a fun way to introduce kids to play structure and the ins and out of stage work.
  • Discussion about community – and how to work together to save something you care about.
  • Discussion about passion – and how to work hard on something that matters – without hurting others in the process.

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2017 Debut Book Love: Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire

Book Review | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comI love books for middle-graders. I love reading them, talking about them, and sharing them with kids, teachers, and parents. The best part about reading books for middle-graders is remembering what it was like to be a kid – to be  nine-years-old and just figuring out school and friends and family – at the same time you’re beginning to examine exactly where you belong in the great big world.

Some books just remind you of that time, while others transport you back there and make you relive all of it: the laughter, the pain, the excitement, and the confusion. Fellow 2017 debut author Susan Tan’s debut MG novel CILLA LEE-JENKINS:  FUTURE AUTHOR EXTRAORDINAIRE does all of this and more.

I read this book in one sitting and loved it so much, I shared my love for it all over social media – that is after I managed to wipe away the tears.

Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author ExtraordinaireCilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cilla Lee-Jenkins is the best friend you wish you had. Her struggles are real. Her triumphs are joyous. And her big heart and rich imagination will captivate even the most jaded reader. Susan Tan’s debut will have you laughing out loud one minute and choking back tears the next. This book is a must read for anyone who is or once was a child. Be warned: Cilla and her family will steal your heart.

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CILLA LEE-JENKINS:  FUTURE AUTHOR EXTRAODINAIRE is a must for every classroom and library – public and personal. And, lucky for us, we can pre-order it now and have it in our mailboxes by the end of March.

For readers:

  • The funny and big-hearted Cilla.
  • A great voice kids will totally relate to.
  • Real life worries and triumphs – new baby, fights with friends, big dreams.

For teachers

  • A great example of expressing yourself through writing /memoir.
  • Discussion about family – and the joys and challenges of growing up in two cultures.
  • Discussion about friendship – and what you do when you make a mistake.
  • Discussion about change  – and how to find your place when everything seems to be falling apart.

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