Sunday, February 28, 2021


Crowder, Melanie. Mazie
February 23rd 2021 by Philomel Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

It's 1959, and Mazie Butterfield lives on a farm in Nebraska. She has been singing for years, and gets solos when the car hops perform every hour at the drive in where she works, and is sure that she can make it on Broadway. Her boyfriend, Jesse, doesn't want to squash her dreams, but can't leave the family farm, even though he does very well in school. Her parents just expect that she will graduate from high school, get married, and settle down. Her grandmother is the one person who believes in her, and when she passes away unexpectedly, she leaves train tickets to New York and enough money to last Mazie six weeks in New York. After senior exams, Mazie decides to go to the big city and try to make it before she gets sucked into life in Nebraska. She finds a boarding house for aspiring actresses, packs a bag, and takes off. The city is daunting, but one of her roommates shows her the ropes and gets her started with auditioning. Even though she has taken voice and dancing lessons and worked hard at her craft, Mazie finds that many people snicker at her name, her freckles, and the fact that she is sturdily built rather than sylph like. Luckily, this works to her advantage at an audition. She's not right for that part, but the director sends her to a friend who is doing an industrial musical about tractors. Mazie gets hired as an understudy for all of the parts, which is a thankless task, but one which she attempts wholeheartedly. She deals with handsy men, meets gay actors, and embraces her differences even as her industry tells her to lose twenty pounds. Will she be able to be successful in an acting career? And what will the future hold for her and Jesse?
Strengths: Occasionally, an author who does perfect fine novels will just blow me out of the water with something completely different. Three Pennies was beautifully written, but Mazie... wow. Everything I want in a historical novel. Great period details, acknowledgement of social norms and mores, and a fast paced story that will appeal to a variety of readers. I loved the realistic details, like all fo the work that Mazie has done to prepare for her career, and the fact that she is hired for industrial performances. I had never heard of those, and Crowder has some great notes about them. Really enjoyed this. 
Weaknesses:Introducing Mazie to gay characters made perfect sense, but when she meets up with someone from her hometown while visiting friends from her tour, it seemed like an awfully big coincidence. 
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. It will be fantastic for our Decades unit, for anyone who thinks the stage is a good career move, and for readers who want a book about an older character setting out on her own. This reminded me a bit of Weil's I'm Glad I Did

Gonzalez, Mandy. Fearless
April 6th 2021 by Aladdin
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Here's another one about a girl from California getting a shot at singing on Broadway. She's in a production with three other children, they have a tutor, and things keep happening to sabotage the play. Is the Ethel Merman theater cursed? Or are evil developers plotting to get their hands on the building. Theater books don't circulate well at all in my library, but if they do in yours, definitely take a look. There are lots of good details about Broadway superstitions, history, and traditions provided by the author, who is herself a Broadway star. This looks to be the start of a series. 

From the Publisher: 
Better Nate than Ever meets Love Sugar Magic in this spooky middle grade novel from Hamilton and Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez about a group of young thespians who must face the ghost haunting their theater.

The Ethel Merman Theater is cursed. No one is sure how or why, but the evidence speaks for itself. Show after show has flopped and the theater is about to close. Enter twelve-year-old Monica Garcia, who has been cast to star in a Broadway musical revival of The Goonies, the theater’s last chance to produce a hit before it shutters its doors for good.

The kids in the cast each have their own reasons for wanting to make the show a success, and all eyes in the theater world are on them. Will this show finally break the curse of the Ethel? The kids aren’t quite sure if the curse is even real, but when their first performance doesn’t quite go as planned, it certainly feels that way.

Then they realize the ghost light—the light that is always kept on at every theater in order to appease the ghosts—wasn’t lit! When the kids rush to flick the switch back on, they find themselves locked in the theater—but that’s the least of their problems when the ghost of the Ethel makes her debut appearance!

Can the cast overcome their fears and reverse the ghost’s curse before opening night so they can save the show—and their dreams?

1 comment:

  1. These both sound delightful. I was just telling my mother we need to buy something at the nearby Children's Bookshop to help keep it afloat and Mazie sounds perfect.