Title: Eyes Like Stars: Theatre Illuminata, Act I
Author: Lisa Mantchev
Publisher: Fiewel and Friends
Publication Date: 2009
Summary: Bertie is an orphan living in a magical theatre, THE magical theatre where all plays, characters, and their backdrops are magically housed. When she gets in trouble, she promises to restage Hamlet and bring a soldout crowd and a standing ovation to the theatre in order to be allowed to stay. Along the way, she discovers so much more about herself and who she is than she could have imagined.
What I Think: I'm still digesting this book! I'm not sure what I think. In a way, I feel like I was a "bad" reader with this book because I just kept reading even though it didn't make too much sense to me...but as much as I read the book jacket and the summaries online, I truly think I did understand the book but it just wasn't explicitly explained so I felt like I was confused.
I think fantasy-lovers would love this book, but I would hesitate to give it to a student without fantasy background or Shakespearean background. Mantchev does an amazing job of incorporating characters from Shakespeare's plays, but it's kind of tricky if you aren't familiar with the characters. The author jumps into the story and it takes off without really explaining the whole magical theatre idea or even the real-life setting outside of the story. I thought she was in this theatre in current times because she wears jeans and dyes her hair blue, but then the night of the play fancy royalty show up.
In the end, I really enjoyed the characters, and made sense of the story once I was done and read some reviews of what other people have said, but I can't say this is my favorite fantasy book/series ever. I would recommend it to a high school student, but I would definitely have to think carefully about who that student is as a reader first...and make sure to follow up with them!
Read Together: 9 - 12
Read Alone: 9 - 12
Read With: Plays by Shakespeare such as Hamlet, Macbeth, or A Midsummer Night's DreamGraceling by Kristin Cashore; The Looking Glass Wars By Frank Bedor;
Snatch of Text: "Bertie often thought that if she had a grandmother, and that grandmother had a parlor, and that parlor perpetually awaited a vicar's arrival for tea, it would be just like the Green Room. Spikes of painted iris grew up the wallpaper, and the sofa's moss-velvet was rubbed so thin in places as to be nearly gray and kitten-soft. The mica window set into the petite cast-iron stove revealed the cheerful glow of burning coals. Tiny, unexpected posies bloomed in forgotten corners, while an enormous clock tick-tick-ticked away the seconds until showtime." p. 22
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions, Visualization
Writing Strategies to Practice: Descriptive Writing
Writing Prompts: Choose a place and use all five senses to describe it, try adding some compound adjectives that you make up yourself.
Topics Covered: Shakespeare, Plays, Theatre, Friendship, Family, Love, Magic, Determination
Translated to Spanish: No
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