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How to Stage a Catastrophe
How to Stage a Catastrophe
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Award Winners Reviewed Titles

How to Stage a Catastrophe

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.

PublisherCapstone Young Readers
Age Level8-12 Years
Reading LevelGrades 4-7
GenreRealistic Fiction
Trim Size5 1/4 x 7 1/2
Page Count256
Paper Over Board



Booklist - Maggie Reagan

"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." - Booklist

March 1, 2017

School Library Journal - Misti Tidman, Mansfield/Richland County Public Library, OH

"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. . .readers with an affinity for theater may enjoy this peppy outing. 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." - School Library Journal

March 1, 2017


School Library Connection - Annette B. Thibodeaux, Retired School Librarian, Metairie, Louisiana

"Donnelly’s debut novel for young people focuses on the Juicebox Theater, a children’s theater that is in danger of closing. . . .Parts of the text are displayed in play format and many drama terms are introduced to readers: stage, scene, setting, intermission, cast, director, props. . . .This would be a good introduction to children’s theater. Recommended." - School Library Connection

October 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews

"...Sid's first-person, fourth-wall-breaking narration, full of amusing similes and asides, carries the day. Conspiratorial theatrics and all-around good fun." - Kirkus Reviews

February 1, 2017


Barnes & Noble Kids blog - Maria Burel

"...there’s a thin line between business and extortion, as we discover in this equal parts touching and humorous look at the business side of the theatre world." - Barnes & Noble Kids blog

May 3, 2017

BookPage - Jennifer Bruer Kitchel, librarian at a PreK-8 Catholic school

"Rebecca Donnelly’s debut novel is a treat on many levels. The format, prose style and story are all appealing, making this middle grade book a solid read for audiences of all ages. . . .The antics of the characters are funny and sincere enough without the play construct, but this format allows readers to understand Sidney while encouraging appreciation for theater as art. The laugh-out-loud moments are tempered by heartfelt character development, as Sidney discovers truths about himself and tries to direct the story to a satisfying conclusion. A fun read from opening scene to final curtain, How to Stage a Catastrophe will be a favorite for many years." - BookPage

April 1, 2017



American Booksellers Association

Winter/Spring 2017 Indies Introduce

September 1, 2016

Indiana Library Federation & the Association of Indiana School Library Educators

2019-2020 Young Hoosier Book Award Longlist

February 1, 2018

Rebecca Donnelly

Rebecca Donnelly

Rebecca Donnelly was born in England, where she got to stand in the rain and wave at the Queen once, and at seven moved to California, where they don't do things like that. She holds an MLIS from San Jose State University. Rebecca runs a small rural library in upstate New York and has written for School Library Journal and The Horn Book.

Go to the Author’s Page →