Tuesday, July 7, 2009

REVIEW: Eyes Like Stars

Mantchev, L.  (2009).  Eyes Like Stars:  Theatre illuminata, act I.  New York:  Feiwel and Friends.


Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, or Bertie, lives in the theatre and interacts with the living various characters and theatre managers.  An orphan, she had lived in the theatre happily for most of her life.  That is, until she had a little too much fun one time too many and shot a pyrotechnic cannon for her own amusement.  Now the theatre manager has insisted she either leave the theatre soon or "find an invaluable way to contribute" (p. 39).

Determined to find her purpose in this wonderful and magical theatre, Bertie must contend with a stage manager who would love to see her leave, her troublesome fairy friends, her attraction to one of the younger pirates from Peter Pan, and a Shakespearean character who will sabotage all of Bertie's work to escape the theatre himself.

While the rules of the magical place take some time to be established and understood in this narrative there is no doubt a sense of love and enchantment and an understanding of the power of words.  For me, Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed, the four fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream, made this book, providing humor and light throughout Bertie's many frustrating situations.  Having said that, at times if the reader hasn't brushed up on their Shakespeare (whether assigned by a teacher or to woo women) he or she may have some trouble following some of the deeper implications of the characters' behaviors.

Flashbacks to Bertie's childhood are shared in the structure of a play, lending them to be acted out in classrooms.

As with many performances, this one is but the first of three acts.

Activities to Do with the Book:


 Students could read (or watch) A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, Hamlet, etc. to understand many of the references made throughout the narrative or they could create their own one-act plays in response to this story.

As art projects, student could be allowed to design the theatre sets they think Eyes Like Stars could take place in.  They could create costume designs and other illustrations that they feel could represent the characters.



Favorite Quotes:


 "The fairies flew suspended on wires despite their tendency to get tangled together.  Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, busy assessing her reflection in the looking glass and thinking perhaps she shouldn't have dyed her hair blue on this particular morning, turned to glare at them when they rocketed past the end of her nose for the third time in as many minutes" (p. 1).

"The only reason I'm friends with any of you is because I outgrew the von Trapps, one annoying Austrian at a time" (p. 4).


 "Hey, Mustardseed took a bag of jelly beans!" Cobweb whined, far less concerned about access to the stage than stolen snacks.

"You can have the black one."

"But I wanted the red one!"

A muffled noise, then, "Now it's up my nose.  Still want it?" followed by a very sulky "No!" (p. 24).


"It is with deepest regret that I convey this news to you all:  The Theater Manager is in his Office at this very moment, telling Beatrice Shakespeare Smith she must leave the theater" (p. 33).

"You're not the sort of girl who fades into the background.  I had hoped you'd find your place with us, your niche, but I see now you must follow your stars elsewhere" (p. 37).

"Then why are you sitting here naked and in the company of a pirate?"

"He was dirty, and I didn't see how it could hurt?"  (pp. 150-151).

To find out more about Eyes Like Stars and its author, follow the rest of the book tour:

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