Teenage actor Wallis knows of what she writes. She sets her perky first novel (publishing simultaneously with a picture book, A Night Out with Mama) at a performing arts elementary school in Atlanta, where best friends Shai Williams and Emmie Harper are preparing to audition for the third-grade musical. Enter Gabby Supreme, a confident new student from Los Angeles, who has acted in a zombie movie and a toothpaste commercial—and is trying out for the same lead role as Shai. Gabby lands the coveted role, Shai is cast as the character’s mother, and she is asked to help Gabby prepare for the performance. Following her grandmother’s advice to find the “courage to be nice to folks who aren’t always nice to you,” Shai rises to the occasion, and the novel and the musical end on upbeat notes. Miller’s b&w cartoons help convey the big emotions at play, and the interactions between Shay, her friends, and her African-American family bring warmth and light humor to this series opener. Ages 6–10. Author’s agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. Illustrator’s agent: Monica Odom, Bradford Literary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/28/2017 Release date: 10/03/2017 Genre: Children's
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