“No dream is too big, no dreamer too small” in this charming tale of a little mouse whose one wish is to perform on Broadway.
“Lulu the Broadway Mouse”, the debut novel by stage and screen veteran, Jenna Gavigan, is the story of Lucy Louise, or Lulu, the titular mouse who lives at the legendary Shubert Theatre in New York City. She declares her “house” is the “most jaw droppingly fabulous place in the world” and her dream is to be on Broadway. She and her family live and work alongside the humans that bring the resident unnamed musical to life. In Gavigan’s world, it’s an accepted fact that mice are a part of the theatre community and have been ever since a mouse named Poppy befriended Bet, the Theatre’s seamstress, years ago. Fully aware of how mice are perceived elsewhere in our culture, Lulu refers to how the Cinderella mice “did a lot of good for the image of our species.” Is it some sort of theatrical magic that mice in the Shubert Theatre can talk? Lulu explains “No, we can talk everywhere. But so far, only theatre people listen.” Anyone who has ever been a part of the theatre can agree to the next sentence that follows this explanation: “That’s because they are the best people.”
I was immediately enchanted with this book by just the Introduction. “Here’s the Scoop” makes you keenly aware that you are dealing with a theatre lover (NOT theater because theatre is “just correct”.) The first-person, effusive description of the theatre itself, the people who work in the theatre, and “(sigh) applause”, spoke to the girl in me who had dreams of performing on the Great White Way. It doesn’t even matter that the narrator is a mouse, if you are a theatre kid at heart, you know her. I even forgot she’s a mouse at times because of her very human mannerisms. Description of her brothers (the Hooligans) and her dad’s job (she does not know what he does nor does she care), her relationship with her seamstress mom, her interactions with the many people at the theater, all highlight the fact she is just an average player in this life.
Besides the tone of her writing, you know she’s talking to a child reader because she acknowledges it. Even though this is a first-person narrative, rarely does the reader get directly addressed in such a way where the speaker knows who their audience is. “… please keep reading because some grown-up already bought the book for you, and they (and I) will be heartbroken if you don’t finish it.” This gives it a lovely personal touch that will draw a young reader more into the story.
This book is a backstage pass to the workings of a Broadway show. We are given entertaining snippets of the life and duties of ALL the people who work to get a Broadway show up and running. From the seamstress to the star of the show, everyone gets a nod because EVERYONE is integral to its success.
It’s more than that, though. “Lulu the Broadway Mouse” is a love letter to theatre. It recognizes its glory and heartache. It breaks it down that only a precious few ever get to live out their dream of performing in a Broadway show. It takes heart, talent, and luck.
While many of the show references will go over the heads of the intended audience, I think it is a clever way to get children who are reading the book to go searching for the shows Lulu refers to. What better way to bring classic shows to a new generation? I’m sure the author’s hope is to send some of her readers to seek out videos and cast recordings of the shows mentioned so they too can fall in love with them, just like Lulu did.
Does Lulu ever get to live her dream and have a big Broadway debut? That’s for the reader to find out, but either way, this book was a lovely tribute to the theatre. While it’s suitable for children 9-12, this is a book a theatre kid of any age will love because “Everyone, no matter — what size or species — deserves to live their dream.”
This novel’s release date is October 9, 2018 and can be purchased at Amazon.
Published by Running Press Kids.