How to Stage a Catastrophe
Sid loves working at his local children’s theater and helping Mr. Jameson, his neighbor confined to a wheelchair. The boy plans to become a director, but his theater, the Juicebox, is not doing so well. Things are tight, and the theater may close. Sid and his fellow actors try a variety show, but it doesn’t bring in enough money, maybe because one of their best-selling cookies disappears. This mystery is just the first of many, like why is May, Sid’s sister, looking for bears in the woods? What happened to Mr. Jameson’s favorite picture? Why did Folly, Sid’s best friend and entrepreneur, receive ledgers from the local children’s magazine?
In keeping with the theater theme, Donnelly’s chapters are acts and scenes from a play with Sid as director and writer. There is enough background information that most readers will be able to follow along and enjoy the symbolism. It is a sweet, innocent story, similar to Dorko the Magnificent or Freaky Fast Frankie Joe. The fights are typical of upper elementary school, the chases are comical, and the family interactions are reminiscent of a time before electronic devices. There’s so much wholesomeness here, you could slap a cereal brand on it.
Capstone Young Readers