I was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Blurb: Great Aunt Maude visits seasides the world over and has become quite the pebble collector. Pebbles of all shapes, sizes and colours and even one that looked a bit like Elvis Presley if you held it up to the light and squinted a bit. Her favourite pebbles, however, are Marigold, Margot and Morris. One by one, and by strange and unusual ways, each child arrives at the stage door of Great Aunt Maud’s theatre in the heart of London. They spend their summer holidays backstage with an extraordinary cast of theatre acts – Dante the miraculous magician, Petunia the storyteller and seventy-year-old contortionists – the Fortune Sisters! One day, as they are exploring the many nooks and crannies of the theatre, they stumble upon something they were never meant to find…
Title: Into the Spotlight
Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher
Illustrator: Kiersten Eagan
Publisher: Puffin, part of the Penguin Random House Group
Genre: Fiction, Middle Grade, Contemporary
The Pebble Theatre is home to a family of brilliant performers, amongst which are the three Pebble children, brought into the fold by Brilliant Aunt Maude (or BAM). But when trouble arises, it’s up to those three plucky children (and the hidden diary of an actress from long ago) to use their talents and save the theatre!
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started this book. It’s a retelling based on Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild which isn’t something I’d read before (I don’t think you have to have read it but you might get a bit more out of the book from the subtle nods to the original story) but I was more than pleased with what I found! The characters are all brilliantly interesting, all with their own unique talents, coming together in one fabulously mismatched family. The children were all different, with different dreams and personalities yet none of them hesitated to want to help out when the Pebble Theatre is at risk of closure. I’d also note that there’s a lovely bit of diversity in this book as both Marigold and Morris are POC yet are treated just the same as Margot who is BAM’s biological family. This is just another way that the cosy family atmosphere is built throughout the story.
The message of this story is probably my favourite thing about it. The idea that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to, you should follow your dreams and you should never count yourself out, even when the going gets tough. It’s such an inspiring message to give to readers and one that touched my heart particularly. If you’re after a read that going to give you a good bolster then I can’t recommend this one enough.
It’s also wonderful to read a story that you can see so much of the author’s personal likes in. I’ve been following Carrie on social media and YouTube for years now and it was brilliant to see her knowledge of all things theatre translated into such a lovely story! I especially appreciated that way that it wasn’t an information dump and instead even taught me a bit about what goes on behind the scenes. I feel that this story, much like the one it’s based on, would be perfect reading for any budding performers that you know.
As for what I disliked, there really wasn’t much. There are some moments which some might find a bit twee but personally I didn’t mind that too much and doubt that that would be a problem for the middle grade intended audience.
Overall, I’d recommend this book to everyone, especially those who love the theatre or are looking for a heartwarming story about following your dreams. This would be a perfect addition to the Christmas lists of any young readers!
Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!
You can always find me over on Twitter if you’d like to discuss this book (or any others that I’ve featured) in more detail 😌