Written by Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez (Hamilton, In the Heights, and Wicked), this middle-grade novel combines mystery and musical theater in a very entertaining way. Protagonist Monica travels from California to New York when a big break as understudy for a Broadway show is offered. But her arrival finds a once great theater now in shabby splendor, rehearsals plagued with accidents, and a rumored curse on the entire thing. Can Monica and the other child actors find the clues to why the theater's luck has run out in time to save their own show?
Monica's character is well-developed. Readers will see the close relationship with her grandmother Abuelita, who accompanies her to New York and also with her brother Freddy. Although she is a bit shy, she still makes friends with the other actors and gets along well with the adults she meets. Her determination to save the production stems from her own love of performing, but also from her knowledge of what a successful show will mean for her family and for the others involved.
The curse shows itself in large and small mishaps and problems. Some may be the type of accidents that could happen in any theater, but others seem too bizarre to be anything but the result of vengeful spirits or some other negative force. As the kids investigate, they learn more about the history of the theater housing their show and readers learn more about Broadway in general. (It certainly helps that the author has inside knowledge of theater traditions.)
Recommended for upper elementary or early middle school readers who enjoy mysteries, have a love of the theater, or prefer stories with a group of friends working together to solve a problem or puzzle.
Due for publication April 6.
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