November 20, 2017

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Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah | SLJ Audio Review

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redstarSHEVAH, Emma. Dara Palmer’s Major Drama. 5 CDs. 6 hrs. Recorded Books. Jul. 2016. $51.75. ISBN 9781501921575. digital download.

Untitled-21Gr 3-6 –Dara knows she was meant to be a star. She watches TV all the time to study for roles, practices facial expressions in the mirror, and daydreams constantly about her future in Hollywood. When her middle school prepares to put on The Sound of Music, Dara knows she’ll be Maria. Instead, she is in the chorus. As an adopted girl from Cambodia, Dara sometimes feels out of place in her British family, and she starts to wonder if her skin tone was the real reason she wasn’t selected for the lead. Her focus on exterior factors is misguided—the cast of the musical is multicultural, and her position in the chorus reflects her abilities. Dara learns some important lessons as she battles her own insecurities, copes with a classmate who calls her some culturally insensitive names, and contemplates her goals. This journey leads Dara to consider a trip to Cambodia to find out more about her culture and come to terms with the realization that practice is necessary in order to succeed. Narrator Avita Jay’s tone and pitch add so much dimension to Dara. Funny bits are mixed in with deep and heartfelt moments. This tale features a main character of color who has a great home life but who is dealing with her own insecurities about where she belongs, something that will resonate with many readers. VERDICT This story touches upon important topics such as adoption, self-acceptance, and racism; many children will see themselves in Dara. A must-have for libraries serving middle grade children. [“A funny and fresh addition to older-elementary collections”: SLJ 5/16 starred review of the Sourcebooks Jabberwocky book.] –Katie Llera, Bound Brook High School, NJ

This review was published in the School Library Journal November 2016 issue.

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