Olivia is sad and lonely and angry – angry that she’s been dumped with her sister eel at her grandmother’s school, and angrier still that that school turns out to be a stage school where there’s no encouragement for her to do what she loves best: practice her circus skills.
But in the course of a turbulent first term, Olivia finds out much more than she bargained for about the theatre, about friendship, about enemies, about her family and about herself.
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Extract: “It’s a stage school! You said that we were going to stay with Granny Alicia and go to her school. You didn’t tell us that she runs a stage school.” Olivia spat out the words “stage school” as if they had a nasty taste.
Jack looked like a small boy who has just been caught with his fingers in the sweet jar. “Didn’t I? I must have forgotten to mention it.”
Olivia glared at him. “But you’ve always said that you hate all that fake theatre stuff, and so do we.”
“Not me,” piped up Eel. “I’ve always wanted to learn to dance but we’ve never stayed anywhere long enough to have lessons.” She tried to do a little twirl and got tangled up with Olivia, who was still gripping her hand. “I’ll be a great dancer. The bestest.”
Lyn says: “Olivia began on the London tube one day when I saw a group of children from a London stage school get on. They were obviously going off to an audition and they were all full of optimism. I wondered who would be successful that day and who wouldn’t, and what it might be like to go to a stage school. My eldest daughter, Ellie, was learning the trapeze at the time, and I write about theatre for a newspaper, so I began to think about what would happen if those two similar, but also very different, worlds collided.
Kate says: “As a child, I loved the family and friendship dramas, as well as the theatrical drama of books like Ballet Shoes and The Swish of the Curtain. I also loved boarding school stories, from Blyton to Buckeridge, and have shared both with my own children. Lyn Gardner’s stories of Olivia at The Swan Stage School combined so many of the things I loved in a contemporary London setting. It’s sort of Ballet Shoes meets Malory Towers meets Saffy’s Angel.”
“Gardner’s books sparkle with action and drama … a thoroughly entertaining series with its enticing mix of adventure, stage dreams and feelgood fun.”
“Lyn Gardner goes from strength to strength in this series full of complex and developing characters and believable but exciting storylines.”
“A story of friendship and family with a heady backdrop of theatre and dance.”
“Olivia’s First Term is a lovely and accurate portrayal of life in a stage school … which will inspire many would-be performers to follow their dream, even if it is a little different to everyone else’s.”
‘I love this series….A really enjoyable read with an interesting setting. Lyn Garnder is a theatre critic and her knowledge of and love for the theatre shine through in these books.’
“Few people know more about the performing arts industry than Lyn Gardner”
I would have loved Olivia’s First Term by Lyn Gardner at about age 12, when I was addicted to Pamela Brown’s The Swish of the Curtain novels … It’s nicely told by Gardner, a well-known theatre critic and champion of theatre for young audiences, with plenty to engross those who love acting, singing and dancing, or just like reading about it.
“This is a gripping story with a sharp eye for the power struggles within the classroom.”
“with its stage-school setting it is strongly reminiscent of Noel Streatfeild … It has all the classic ingredients for nine year-olds – bitchy rich girl jealous of talented poor girl, parental abandonment, star potential realised.”
“With strong characters and a gripping story, girls will enjoy this fresh take on the classic stage story and look forward to the rest of the books in the series.”
“This book entertains from the start …The plot is fast paced and quickly takes you through a fun-filled term; you get to see how both friendships and enemies are made in the classroom. With great characterisations, this is an exciting first book in a series and ideal for fans of “Glee” and TV talent shows. “
“I can see the series being an instant hit with girls, who will love the thought of the glamour of stage school – or is it glamorous?”
“Girls will love this book, it is a great story, with many messages within the story about friendship… I am sure this series could become as popular as Enid Blytons Malory towers and st Clare’s series!”
“A hugely enjoyable, escapist, quite traditional series of children’s books … I lapped up the awful stage school brat, the frightfully decent head girl and the sympathetic acting teacher and I felt as though I was 10 years old again.”
“Captures perfectly the conflicting emotions of a young girl at a new school, while depicting the exciting world of the stage”