Sunday, April 30, 2023

Shannon in the Spotlight

Miller, Kaelene. Shannon in the Spotlight
April 25, 2023 by Delacorte Press
E ARC provided by Netgalley 

Shannon and her friends Fatima and Elise are interested in theater to different degrees. Shannon would rather work on set design and tech, while Fatima would like small roles and Elise wants to be the star. When the teacher directing the school play hears Shannon singing, he suggests that she try out for the Northern Repertory Theater in town. They're doing the Sound of Music, so the cast is large. To her surprise, Shannon gets the part of Brigitta. Shannon has to deal with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, so has some concerns about being in the play, but is glad that she got a part. Complicating her life further is the fact that her Grandma Ruby's house has had a fire, and Grandma Ruby moves in with Shannon and her mother for a bit... into Shannon's room! Shannon sees a therapist to help her with her OCD, and is trying out therapies to help her, such as stepping over the doorway into her room wearing the "wrong" shoes. Grandma Ruby doesn't think much about the therapy and thinks that Shannon just needs to "get over it", and even spends the morning trying to distract Shannon from using Chapstick more than every fifteen minutes, although Shannon does feel calmer playing Scrabble with her grandmother and not thinking about other things. Elise isn't too happy that Shannon got a part, and the two have a bit of a falling out. As the play progresses, Shannon connects with Micah, who has seen Shannon in the therapist's office while he is waiting for his older sister, who is also working with the therapist for OCD. It's good to have someone who understands. Grandma Ruby gets more involved in the play, and Shannon and Elise work out their problems a bit. Will the play be a success?
Strengths: There is a lot of good information about dealing with OCD, similar to the way that ADHD is treated in Gerber's Focused. Shannon's mother is one of the rare parents who seem to take their children's problems seriously in middle grade literature, although I appreciated that the grandmother wasn't completely evil when she voiced doubts about Shannon's insistence on needing so much Chapstick. Micah was a good character, and the friend drama with Elise and Fatima was very accurately described. The details of putting on a play are also good, and Grandma Ruby got to step up again with a positive portrayal.  
Weaknesses: There are a growing number of books that involve theater productions that are perfectly fine, but which my students tend not to check out. I've bought several over the last couple of years. This must not be the case in other schools. I used to think it was because our school didn't do any theatrical productions, but sadly this has not changed even since we now do one play a year.  
What I really think: This is a good choice for readers who enjoyed books like Key's Twelfth, Staniszewski's Double Clique (#2), Green's Violet and the Pie of Life, or Harmon's Upstaged that deal with a variety of middle grade problems set against the backdrop of a play production.  

Ms. Yingling

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