"Gr 4-6In this charming story featuring a relatable narrator and action-driven plot, Beth dreams of one day playing the female lead in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Trouble looms, however, when Beth’s beloved children’s theater threatens to close. While undoubtably appealing to any child looking to learn more about the theater in general, the book also offers a thorough immersion into the world of children’s theater. The emotional core of the story comes from Beth’s relationships with her best friend and her parents. The friendships portrayed are realistic and not overly dramatic. While Beth occasionally seems wise beyond her years, her concerns and fears feel real. Her superstitions surrounding the theater are relatable and provide an opportunity for Wetzel to discuss the history of theater. Additionally, family issues, such as Beth’s desire to please her parents and Beth’s friend’s experience of divorce and shared parenting, are portrayed authentically and will resonate with many readers. The epigraphs at the start of each chapter provide unique opportunities for foreshadowing. This feature both drives the plot forward and draws readers in. An explanation of the epigraphs at the book’s conclusion allows deeper understanding of these literary devices and enriches the text even further. VERDICT A solid story with surprising emotion, this novel is sure to appeal to theater lovers and neophytes alike."School Library Journal
"The novel effectively captures the cadence and essence of preteen-speak and the intense, hyperbolic feeling of life onstage, when flubbing a line or missing an entrance is as catastrophic as being grounded. . . . An earnest and creditable effort that will resonate with thespians both young and old."Kirkus Reviews
Playing Juliet is cinematic, fast-paced, full of theater magic, misdirection, and Shakespeare. . . . I couldn't stop reading.” Jane Yolen, award-winning author of Owl Moon and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?
"Joanne Stewart Wetzel's middle-grade debut is a hit! Starry-eyed, yet hopelessly superstitious, Beth Sondquist dreams of someday playing Juliet. With the threat of her local children's theater closing, the part of a lifetime may happen sooner than she ever anticipated. Playing Juliet is a dazzling adventure in which readers are sure to find that 'parting is such sweet sorrow.'" Kerry O'Malley Cerra, author of the Crystal Kite Award winner Just a Drop of Water
Bravo! A standing ovation for Playing Juliet, an adventure-filled story that offers a look backstage into the fascinating world of children’s theater and introduces a protagonist who will steal your heart as she chases after her dreams.” Miriam Spitzer Franklin, author of Extraordinary
About the Author
JoAnne Stewart Wetzel is a self-proclaimed theater geek, and she recently completed a twenty-year quest to see at least one production of every play written by Shakespeare. She is also a published author of two previous books for children, including a nonfiction theater book, Onstage/Backstage (Carolrhoda). Her picture book, The Christmas Box (Knopf), was named a Noteworthy Book for Children by Bank Street College of Education. She resides in Palo Alto, California.