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Eyes Like Stars Paperback – April 13, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up—Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, a sarcastic, likable 17-year-old, must find a way to make herself invaluable to the Théâtre Illuminata or she will be forced to leave the only home she has ever known. How she arrived at the theater as a baby is somewhat of a mystery, and through the years she has been allowed to run free and cause mayhem of one kind or another. Beatrice proposes to restage Hamlet set in ancient Egypt and promises it will be the sell-out performance that will restore the Théâtre to its former glory. If that were all, the story line would be fairly straightforward. However, the Théâtre Illuminata is no ordinary theater. Characters from the world's major plays live inside, summoned forth by pinning a note on the Call Board. They are bound to the physical confines of the theater by the pages in The Complete Works of the Stage, an enchanted book. Scene changes happen magically by command, though human Properties and Scenic Managers argue over which pieces belong to whom. The fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream provide the comic relief, and Ariel and Ophelia provide some of the action. Readers who have some knowledge of or interest in theatrical productions will have the easiest time following the twists and turns of the plot, which is especially confusing in the beginning. However, wondering what crazy thing will happen next will keep them going. The ending is a little unsatisfying, and it is clear that a sequel is coming. Nonetheless, the story is clever, if a bit melodramatic at times, and Beatrice is a fun character.—Cheri Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
“Lisa Mantchev's theatrical fantasy ‘Eyes Like Stars' pits a plucky orphan, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, and her fairy attendants against the wiles of Ariel and a stuffy stage manager.” ―New York Times Book Review
“All the world's truly a stage in Lisa Mantchev's innovative tale, Eyes Like Stars. Magical stagecraft, unmanageable fairies, and a humourous cast of classical characters form the backdrop for this imaginative coming-of age.” ―Suzanne Collins
“With an iron-willed girl hero whose magic is with words, and a universe that is also the ultimate theater, Eyes Like Stars is the most unusual fantasy I've read this year! I recommend it to anyone who loves drama, strong girls, and rowdy faery folk!” ―Tamora Pierce
“Electric…delicious…fascinating…vivid…smart and sassy…bawdy and hilarious…Brava! Encore!” ―Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“Bertie's determined efforts to become invaluable form the basic plot in this wildly imagined adventure…Mantchev clearly knows theater from all angles, and she uses inventive play-within-play formats to create a tumble of multiple, even metaphysical narratives filled with delicious banter and familiar characters from the dramatic canon. Many teens, particularly those with some theatrical background, will look forward to the sequel suggested at the end of this bravely flamboyant and wholly original romp.” ―Booklist
“Mantchev's first novel feels dreamlike…underneath is a solid story about the search for happiness and identity. Inside jokes will delight drama club devotees…but this passionate debut should attract a broader readership as well.” ―Publishers Weekly
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Bertie has lived in the theatre with the players and the various theatre managers as long as she can remember. Even her bedroom is on the stage, and it disappears below stage when there is a scene change. But after Bertie causes too much mischief at the theatre, the Theatre Manager tells her that she has to leave the theatre unless she can find some invaluable way to contribute--a challenge that Bertie takes very seriously. She enlists the help of all her friends at the theatre, and together they help her rise to the occasion.
There are appearances of many of Shakespeare's characters in this book, which was great (Ophelia shows up and asks if she can drown herself). Also, the depiction of theatre dynamic, with people arguing about what constitutes a prop vs. what constitutes a part of a person's wardrobe vs. what constitutes a part of the scenery was hilarious.
There were two romantic interests for Bertie. One was Ariel, a seductive ghost-like creature, and the other is Nate, a pirate. I personally am pulling for Ariel, even though I hope she saves Nate eventually. I know it looked like she really liked Nate and all, and he is really protective and caring of her, but I can't resist Ariel's charisma. And he really did come through for Bertie in the end.
Anyway, it's a great book. And it's different. It paints a magical picture of theatre drama, what goes on both on-stage and off.