cover image Annabel the Actress Starring in Gorilla My Dreams

Annabel the Actress Starring in Gorilla My Dreams

Ellen Conford, Renee W. Andriani. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $15 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81404-4

Conford's (the Jenny Archer series) fast-paced and funny first installment of a chapter-book series introduces an appealing thespian, Annabel, whose first paid job requires her to play a gorilla for a children's birthday party. In addition to Annabel, who wants ""to be a movie star someday. Or at least a soap opera star,"" the boisterous cast includes Maggie, Annabel's resourceful friend and budding costume designer, and Lowell, Annabel's arch enemy who nearly closes her run as a gorilla before her debut. Andriani's (Really, Really Bad School Jokes) well-chosen comic scenes show Annabel getting into character by pretending to pick fleas out of her father's ""fur"" while he works on his computer and desperately trying to avoid dropping the birthday cake while being assaulted by her adoring five-year old ""fans."" In Annabel, Conford has created a persistent heroine smart and capable enough to overcome her small size and makeshift costume. This rising star will likely be a crowd pleaser for this and future performances. Ages 7-9. (June)