Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Summary: Best friends Shai and Emmie are third graders at Sweet Auburn School for the Performing Arts. When snooty new girl Gabby gets the part Shai wanted in the school play, Shai is crushed. Gabby struggles a bit with her role, and Shai is hopeful that she’ll be asked to step in; instead, her teacher asks her to coach Gabby to do a better job. Shai learns what it means to take the high road, and she and Emmie find ways to both help Gabby and (sort of) become her friend. Opening night goes off without a hitch, and Shai feels proud of both her performance and the way she has handled a difficult situation. Book 2 in the series is due out in January. 128 pages; grades 1-4.
Pros: Teen actress Quvenzhane Wallis brings her insider knowledge of the performing arts to this early chapter book series. Readers will enjoy the drama both onstage and off as the class learns to works together to put on their big show.
Cons: Pulling together a third-grade performance of Once On This Island in four weeks seemed ambitious even for a performing arts school.