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Cover image for How to stage a catastrophe
How to stage a catastrophe

North Mankato, Minnesota : Capstone Young Readers, a Capstone imprint, [2017]
Physical Description:
252 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm
Seventh-grader Sidney Camazzola plans to be the director of the Juicebox Theater one day, but for now, he has a great idea--extortion--for keeping the theater open.


Call Number

On Order



Sidney plans to be the director of the Juicebox Theater when he grows up. For now, he handles the props, his best friend Folly works the concession stand, and his sister May hangs out in the spotlight. But the theater is in danger of closing, and the kids know they need a plan to save it and fast. When they join a local commerce club to earn money, Sid and Folly uncover some immoral business practices, and it gives them a great idea for saving the theater. That is, if you can call extortion a great idea. Hilarious and heartwarming, the mission to save a failing community theater unites a riotous cast of characters in this offbeat middle-grade novel.

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-Sidney loves working behind the scenes at the Juicebox, the local children's theater, but when the Juicebox faces financial difficulties, Sidney and his friends try to find a way to keep the lights on. Initial ideas such as a karaoke machine, a variety show, and better concessions don't do the trick. A fortuitous coincidence provides the kids with the material to blackmail a local businessman. Can they take the high road and still save their beloved theater, or will they stoop to unsavory means? None of the characters are particularly fleshed out, and several secondary characters serve the plot only once and are not brought up again, making them difficult to place in the story. The narrative races around several unlikely scenarios that will keep readers laughing and guessing until the improbable conclusion. There's plenty of fun to be had in this tale, if not cohesion. Still, readers with an affinity for theater may enjoy this peppy outing. VERDICT An additional purchase where books such as Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead's "Jack & Louisa" series and Tim Federle's Better Nate Than Ever fly off the shelves.-Misti Tidman, Mansfield/Richland County Public Library, OH © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

"Catastrophe is the soul of the theater" in Donnelly's middle-grade debut. Sid is a precocious young white boy from the Florida Panhandle trying to rescue his beloved children's theater, the Juicebox. He brings his best friend, Folly, an African-American boy who is the type of kid who can "sell sharks to the ocean" and "says wearing a bow tie reminds him of his life's purpose," along for the ride. In cahoots with the boys is Juicebox newcomer Jelly Baby, a Cuban-American puppeteer whose real name is Juliana. When Folly's newest business scheme accidentally lands sensitive documents in their laps, the kids think they have just the ticket to secure the funds the theater needs to stay open. Chapters are written in prose but presented as a script with act and scene designations, a clever choice in theory but that in practice is often confusing, especially when the act and scene order are rebooted awkwardly just as the climax nears. The climax itself is reminiscent of Scooby Doo, as the meddling kids improbably catch the bad guy and manage to save the theater in a foregone but unlikely conclusion that may test even the most credulous readers. Despite this, Sid's first-person, fourth-wall-breaking narration, full of amusing similes and asides, carries the day. Conspiratorial theatrics and all-around good fun. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Sidney Horatio Camazzola has always been more comfortable in the director's chair than onstage (he likes being able to see the whole picture). The local children's theater in his Florida town, the Juicebox, is a haven for Sidney (who works in props) and for his money-obsessed best friend, Folly (who works at the concession stand, obviously). It's even beloved by Sidney's prickly older sister, May, who, as even Sidney observes, can sing the heck out of anything. But when the theater runs into some financial troubles and is set to close, Sidney takes it upon himself to save it. Assisted by Folly's business sense (Folly probably sleeps on balance sheets), his own organizational skills, and one determined diva in particular, Sidney sets out to direct the scheme of the century and save the theater and the day. Full of quirky fun, this middle-grade debut is given a three-act structure and peppered with witty asides and comments from Sidney about the process of theater making. An ideal introduction for budding thespians.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2017 Booklist