Lucy and the Ghost Take the stage! by Dave Dellecese – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Lucy and the Ghost Take the Stage!

Dave Dellecese, Author

Karen Crystina, Illustrator

Dandy Press, Fiction, Mar. 7, 2023

Suitable for ages: 5-9

Themes: Theater, Performing Arts, Acting, Ghost, Kids making a difference

Opening: “In a quiet little town, / not as big as once before, / sat a cozy little theater / built in 1864.”


Lucy loves the theatre, rushing home after school each day to be part of the magic under the spotlight.

But in a world where screens have replaced the stage, can her beloved small town playhouse survive? Or will Lucy need help from an unexpected source to bring audiences back?

What I like about this book:

Dave Dellecese has written a charming story about a group of kids who want to save their historic theater. My favorite theme — a group of kids trying to make a difference in their community! Great to see kids taking action.  Readers will have fun with the rhyming text, which includes a lot of action verbs and a strong rhythm. “Bursting through the theater doors, / greetings to the cast, / surrounded by the posters / of the theater’s storied past.”

Lucy is a fun-loving and memorable character eager to hurry to the therater after school and rehearse. It is a place where she loves pretending, unlike many of her friends who are attached to their phones. Her enthusiasm will appeal to readers. The ghost is a fun addition to the story as it has an important role to play at the end. 

Karen Crystina’s eye-popping illustrations will engage readers from the start. They are bold, expressive and colorful. Nice touch to the story. And just look at that cover. Perfect summer read!

Resources: With the end of the school year approaching, many children will be heading to summer programs, many of which include theater productions. And there is also community summer theater programs. It’s a great way to introduce your children to live theater. And, during the fall and winter, many downtown theater’s have special programs for kids that introduce them to many forms of theater, like musicals, puppetry and so on.

Dave Dellecese is an author and writer of children’s books, graphic novels, comics, and sometimes even stories for grown-ups. He discovered the fun and joy of performing in theatre as a teen and hasn’t wanted to leave the pretend of the stage ever since. It’s onstage that he met his wife, Megan, when the two were cast in a show together. They currently live in Central New York State with their kids and cats.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by the author in exchange for a review.


Dream, Annie, Dream by Waka T. Brown

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month – May 1 – 31, 2022

Dream, Annie, Dream

Waka T. Brown, Author

Quill Tree Books, Fiction, Feb. 8, 2022

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes: Japanese Americans, Differences, Diversity, Middle School, Theater, Racism, Friendships

Book Jacket Synopsis:

You can be anything you want to be.

Armed with her sixth-grade teacher’s parting words of encouragement, incoming seventh grader Annie Inoue was ready to take on the next year of her life doing just that: following her dreams.

As seventh grade unfolds, so do the opportunities for dreaming. There are basketball tryouts, Annie’s first  crush, and most importantly, auditions for a huge middle school production of the The King and I that Annie is dying to be in. So when she lands a prominent role in the play, she’s ecstatic…until she hears murmurs around school that she only got the role because it’s an Asian play with Asian characters. Then, she’s stunned. This was her dream, and now her classmates want to take it away from her? 

Devastated but determined, Annie channels her hurt into a new dream: showing everyone what she’s made of.  

Waka T. Brown, author of While I Was Away, delivers an uplifting coming-of-age story about a Japanese American girl’s fight to make space for herself in a world that claims to celebrate everyone’s differences but doesn’t always follow through.

Why I like Dream, Annie, Dream:

Waka T. Brown has written a captivating book that is so full of heart and big dreams. But it also tells a story of how American Asians are stereotyped and diversity is not necessarily welcome — an important theme running throughout the story. Set in 1987, there weren’t many people of color in movies, on TV or in books at that time.

I fell in love with Annie (Aoi Inoue) right away. Like Annie, I loved theater, music and the arts in middle grade and high school, so it stirred up many fond memories. I believe her big dreams will appeal to students who love the theater. Annie also loves playing on the basketball team, even though she’s short. Readers will love her spirit, enthusiasm and work ethic. They will identify with her dreams of being on Broadway or playing in the NBA.  But middle school is tough, especially when her best friends, Jessica and Ben unfairly turn on her because of the racism present. But this talented 12-year-old is determined to remain true to herself no matter what others think. The author nailed the middle school drama. 

I enjoyed how the director, Sam, involves both the middle school and high students in The King and I. It allows the students to bond and Annie learns a lot about high school dances, Homecoming, and Friday night football games.  They end up idolizing some of the high school actors. Well done.

Annie’s family is strict, but loving and supportive in an interesting way. They understand what Annie is up against and are concerned that her aspirations are a dead end for her. Her father is a mathematics professor and and her mother is a stay-at-home mom, who isn’t comfortable socializing.  Readers will learn learn a lot about Annie’s culture. I enjoyed the role Annie plays in inspiring her mother to pursue her own dream of becoming a nurse.

Dream. Annie, Dream is a delightful read that will also open readers to many interesting discussions that impact our world today. I also recommend you read the Author’s Note at the end of the book. It will give readers insight into the story.

Waka T. Brown was the first American born in her family. She is a Stanford graduate with a master’s in secondary education. With her background, she’s worked to further US-Japan relations and promoted cultural exchange and awareness. She’s currently  an instructor at Stanford Program on International and Cross Cultural Education (SPICE), authoring curriculum on several international topics and winning the Association for Asian Studies’ Franklin R, Buchanan Prize. Waka’s also been awarded the US–Japan Foundation and Engage Asia’s 2019 Elgin Heinz Outstanding Teacher Award for her groundbreaking endeavors in teaching about US–Japan relations to high school students in Japan. While I Was Away was her debut memoir and is followed by Dream, Annie, Dream, her first work of fiction. She lives with her family in the Portland, Oregon area. To learn more about Waka, visit her website

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a library copy.