Stevie Louise and friends return in the second book in Tanya Hennessy’s hilarious Stevie Louiseseries. And this time there is plenty of drama in store as the future of their amateur production company - Lunchbox Productions - hangs by a thread.
Stevie Louise and the rest of the kids on Brooke Street love to perform. But costumes, sets and cool props cost money and with the kids hard-up for cash it looks like the performing days of Lunchbox Productions are rapidly coming to an end. News of a talent competition at the local shopping centre and a cool prize of $1,000 is just the boost the gang needs. With those kind of bucks in the bank they could continue entertaining the masses for years.
But winning won’t be easy. Firstly, there’s some stiff competition with twerking grannies, singing goats and the ultra professional Starbound all hunting victory. Secondly, Lunchbox don’t have any money to bring any pizazz and sparkle to their act. And then there’s the minor issue of Alex having a unicorn horn stuck to his head and a rainbow-tail fixed to his behind, and if he misbehaves one more time he is going to be grounded, like forever. With the odds firmly stacked against them, can Stevie and the gang come together to give a winning performance or is the curtain closing on Lunchbox Productions…
Fast-paced, funny and very entertaining, this delightful follow-on from book one deserves to be in the spotlight for all the right reasons. With as much drama as your favourite television show, Stevie and friends deliver a first class performance from beginning to end, even if it does not catapult them to victory the kids are determined to go out with a bang (or at least they would if they could afford a party cannon).
Bursting with ingenuity and creativity, and with plenty of LOL’s, eye-rolls and a great deal of histrionics - mostly from the wonderfully charismatic and over-the-top Alex, readers are going to love hanging-out with the cast of Lunchbox Productions. Young performers and those who enjoy nurturing their own creative talents are going to find this series irresistible and will hastily be rounding up their own friends to start their own amateur theatre company.
It is a fabulous read that perfectly captures the highs and lows of kids following their passions and doing the things that make them happy. And when difficulties arise, such as stage fright and losing a cast member, the gang show the resilience and teamwork required to keep going. As they say in show-biz, ‘The show must go on.’
A big plus for me and something that I cannot praise Hennessy enough for is for creating a such an inclusive and diverse cast of characters. Inclusivity and representation is so important in children’s books, children need to see themselves in the books that they read and Hennessy does a wonderful job of achieving this with different family dynamics, kids with disabilities and a wonderful mixture of different identities, personalities and interests.
Short and punchy chapters, the use of different fonts and plenty of illustrations all make for an easy and enjoyable read that is sure to be a hit with readers. The cliffhanger ending promises bigger and brighter lights to come for Lunchbox Productions and I look forward to seeing what lies in store for Stevie and friends.
With huge thanks to Allen & Unwin for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 7+.