Phoebe Finds Her Voice (Star Makers Club) by Anne-Marie Conway
|Phoebe Finds Her Voice (Star Makers Club) by Anne-Marie Conway|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Engaging, feel-good story that's perfect for tweens with stars in their eyes! Anne-Marie Conway was kind enough to chat to us about her writing.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: July 2010|
|Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd|
This is a sweet story in which Anne-Marie Conway makes good use of the current obsession with all-singing, all-dancing shows. Her lead character, Phoebe, is painfully shy. She never used to be though, and always loved singing and dancing before, but since she moved up to the big school, and things started to go wrong at home, she has lost her confidence. Against all her inner fears she somehow ends up joining the local drama club, and whilst she tries to find ways to deal with her crippling stage fright she also begins fighting to get her parents back together again.
I found this an engaging and heart-warming story, easy to read with believable characters. Phoebe's shyness is so well described that I felt myself cringing as she blushed and cowered or found herself reduced to tears, frustrated by her shyness. As I began the book I was a little worried that everything would happen too easily for Phoebe - it seemed that the Star Makers Club might be just a plot link to give Phoebe a lead role in which she'd obviously shine and everything would be horribly twee and happy ever after. Fortunately the book is much better than that, and I was intrigued as I read to see how things would resolve themselves.
Although there's lots about the drama club the story also looks at issues of displacement, how children can feel lost when they move from their primary schools into large, impersonal senior schools. It also deals with parental job loss, separations in families, new half-siblings and the affects these things can have on both the children and the grown ups involved. There's nothing too heavy or depressing, but the situations are quite open and aren't sugar coated. There's emotional bullying too, and interestingly we find out what the bully is thinking and the issues within her own family that have made her act in such a way.
I could quite clearly picture the beloved drama teacher running the club (although I thought her constantly changing hair colour was a little unrealistic), and I enjoyed the quirks of the other children in the club as well as the disasters they face along the way of practising their show. I was very into drama and singing as a girl anyway (who am I kidding - I still sing along to High School Musical and Glee...) and so this is exactly the sort of book I'd have loved when I was little. Phoebe isn't irritatingly perfect, and her situation is realistic and believable, so you found yourself really rooting for her to succeed. The story is fun, but has a bit more depth to it than you might think from the shiny cover. Stars in the making will love it!
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Further reading suggestion: Fans of this might also enjoy the books by Cathy Cassidy.
Anne-Marie Conway was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
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