cover image Ali and the Sea Stars

Ali and the Sea Stars

Ali Stroker, illus. by Gillian Reid. HarperCollins, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-063-01571-5

Tony Award winner Stroker (The Chance to Fly), the first actor who uses a wheelchair to appear on a Broadway stage, makes her picture book debut with the story of a girl who works to immediately realize her dream of being a theater-world triple threat. Deciding not to wait for “someday,” pink-skinned, blond-haired Ali, who uses a wheelchair and considers herself “a sister and a seashell spotter” as well as a “DANCER, a SINGER, and an ACTOR,” stages a free production of Peter Pan on her beach town’s boardwalk. She casts herself in the title role, Dad signs on to play Tinker Bell, and a group of friends with varying skin tones joins in. When the sky turns dark and a momentary downpour soaks the cardboard set, Ali refuses to postpone, cobbles together a new set from beach paraphernalia, and leads her fellow “Sea Stars” to a boffo performance. Reid’s (Peanut Goes for the Gold) unlined digital illustrations lend a sweet-natured, heart-on-their-sleeve vibe to this energetic portrayal of a theater kid kindred spirit. An author’s note includes a photo of Stroker starring as Annie at age seven. Ages 4–8. (May)