ALEXANDER STADLER is the author-illustrator of Lila Bloom and Duncan Rumplemeyer's Bad Birthday, as well as the Beverly Billingsly books. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
K-Gr 2-First introduced in Beverly Billingsly Borrows a Book (Harcourt, 2002), the endearing animal is back, this time excited about upcoming auditions for the school play. However, despite her energetic practicing and emoting, when the day comes she freezes and ends up playing a rock and a shrub. On opening night, Beverly rescues the star performer, who falls victim to her own stage fright. The story is told with gentle, quirky, child-friendly humor, nicely matched by bright, cheerful, also quirky gouache-and-ink illustrations in mostly soft shades edged in black. Pair this with Cari Best's Shrinking Violet (Farrar, 2001) for a storytime that celebrates shyness, kindness, and resilience.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Beverly, who became a library patron in Stadler's Beverly Billingsly Borrows a Book, makes an unprepossessing theatrical debut here. The little gray creature loves playing dress-up at home. She decides on an acting career and plans on singing in her school musical. But she bombs at her audition after counting "twenty-seven faces. That made fifty-four eyes staring at her and waiting." She can't utter a peep. Her theater teacher, a kindly lion, gives her "two parts-The Wall and The Shrub," and one spoken line. Despite her disappointment, Beverly makes the most of her supporting roles. She learns the play by heart and, disguised as background foliage, whispers a prompt when the nervous lead actress gets tongue-tied. Beverly's own stage fright seems to help her empathize with her rival, and she takes her bow with a beatific smile; Stadler, who draws in a pleasingly fumbling ink line with daubs of gouache, conveys her genuine contentment. His story's most convincing moments, including the resolution, happen among the animal-classmates, among them a calf, hippo and crocodile. Beverly's father gives her advice-"there are no small parts, only small actors"-which takes on a dual meaning when Beverly quashes her jealousy to help the star. Stadler's book echoes Horace and Morris Join the Chorus (But What About Dolores?), another piece of good counsel for those consigned to the wings and not the footlights. Ages 3-7. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"Told with gentle, quirky, child-friendly humor."--School
[star] "Good counsel for those consigned to the wings and not the footlights."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)