Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah

Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky 

Summary:  Dara Palmer is shocked and dismayed when—once again—she is passed over for a part in the class play.  Although the drama teacher suggests she and her best friend Lacey join her theater class, the two girls are certain they are destined for stardom without any outside help.  Things are no easier at home.  Dara was adopted from Cambodia, and she can’t help feeling like an outsider with her parents, older brother, and super annoying younger sister, also adopted (from Russia).  As her fifth grade year progresses, Dara slowly and painfully finds her way to a greater maturity, first by admitting she could use some help bringing her acting skills up to the same level as her passion for theater, then coming to terms with her history and learning some empathy for the friends and family members in her life.  282 pages; grades 3-6.

Pros:  Extremely annoying at the beginning of the story, Dara grows and changes without sacrificing her strong (and ultimately winning) personality.  Kids will enjoy the humor and true-to-life situations in this British import.

Cons:  Dara’s insights and maturity sometimes seemed a bit of a stretch, given how bratty and self-centered she is at the beginning of the book.

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