The Ethel Merman Theater is cursed. No one is sure how or why, but the evidence speaks for itself. Show after show has flopped and the theater is about to close. Enter twelve-year-old Monica Garcia, who has been cast to star in a Broadway musical revival of The Goonies, the theater’s last chance to produce a hit before it shutters its doors for good.
The kids in the cast each have their own reasons for wanting to make the show a success, and all eyes in the theater world are on them. Will this show finally break the curse of the Ethel? The kids aren’t quite sure if the curse is even real, but when their first performance doesn’t quite go as planned, it certainly feels that way.
Then they realize the ghost light—the light that is always kept on at every theater in order to appease the ghosts—wasn’t lit! When the kids rush to flick the switch back on, they find themselves locked in the theater—but that’s the least of their problems when the ghost of the Ethel makes her debut appearance!
Can the cast overcome their fears and reverse the ghost’s curse before opening night so they can save the show—and their dreams?---from the publisher
Monica's character is well-developed. Readers will see the close relationship with her grandmother Abuelita, who accompanies her to New York and also with her brother Freddy. Although she is a bit shy, she still makes friends with the other actors and gets along well with the adults she meets. Her determination to save the production stems from her own love of performing, but also from her knowledge of what a successful show will mean for her family and for the others involved.
The curse shows itself in large and small mishaps and problems. Some may be the type of accidents that could happen in any theater, but others seem too bizarre to be anything but the result of vengeful spirits or some other negative force. As the kids investigate, they learn more about the history of the theater housing their show and readers learn more about Broadway in general. (It certainly helps that the author has inside knowledge of theater traditions.)
Recommended for upper elementary or early middle school readers who enjoy mysteries, have a love of the theater, or prefer stories with a group of friends working together to solve a problem or puzzle.
Recommended by: Suzanne Costner, Librarian, Tennessee USA
See more of her recommendations: https://fveslibrary.blogspot.com/2021