Shai & Emmie Star in Break an Egg by Quvenzhané Wallis (review)
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Reviewed by
Kate Quealy-Gainer, Assistant Editor
Wallis, Quvenzhané Shai & Emmie Star in Break an Egg!; by Quvenzhané Wallis and Nancy Ohlin; illus. by Sharee Miller. Simon, 2017 [128p] (A Shai & Emmie Story)
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-5882-5 $15.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-5884-9 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 2-4

Third-grader Shai is certain she’s the best actor in the Sweet Auburn School for the Performing Arts, but her confidence takes a hit when snobby Hollywood transplant Gabby swoops in and steals the leading role in the school’s upcoming musical. Although Gabby has even starred in a commercial, as she haughtily informs Shai, it turns out that being a singing tooth in an ad for toothpaste doesn’t quite translate to an onstage presence as Gabby struggles with the choreography and music. When the teacher asks Shai to help Gabby out, Shai’s unsure, but with the encouragement of her family and best friend Emmie, Shai takes the high road, tutoring Gabby in her performance and gaining friendship as well. There’s nothing really new in the mean-girl-has-a-heart premise from award-winning young actor Wallis, and Shai’s deference to Gabby feels at odds with her otherwise bold personality. The scenes with Shai’s parents and siblings offer warmth and gentle humor to an otherwise tired plot, though, and allow Shai’s cheerful bubbliness to truly shine. Both text and art depict a multicultural cast; Shai and Gabby are African American, the male starring lead is Latino, and kids of color make up the majority of Shai’s class. Though her name is in the title, Emmie acts mostly as a supporting character in this first outing in a series. English’s Carter Chronicles chapter books offer more innovative plots, but readers with the theater bug will appreciate Shai’s enthusiasm. [End Page 138]

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