Ruby Lee and the Very Big Deal

Written by Nancy Buffington

Illustrated by Stephanie Mullani

RubyLee,pic

Ruby Lee is a fifth grade student who has just won a contest. The problem is the prize she had hoped to gain was not something she wanted; it was to deliver a speech about her town at the first event ever held to celebrate life in Ruby’s town. Her friends and family congratulate her, but Ruby is terrified. The only time she had appeared on stage at age six had been a disaster because she had forgotten all her lines! Ruby wishes she could vanish into thin air.

Great Aunt Alice comes to the rescue. Alice is a bit of an eccentric who is rumored to have been a somewhat successful actress way back when. One day while Alice is sitting under the tree in the backyard with her dog, Thumbelina, Alice reveals that she will share her Nine Secrets of Becoming a Star with Alice. Over the next week’s time, Alice gradually shares them. Here are the nine secrets:

  1. Be yourself
  2. Practice, practice, practice
  3. Don’t even try to be perfect
  4. What the audience doesn’t know won’t hurt them
  5. Take charge
  6. Give yourself credit
  7. Have fun!
  8. Get ready to do it again
  9. Feel the love

Alice boasts that she has worked with some of the greats of the acting world. One evening she drops a picture signed by Johnny B., which Ruby picks up and places in her pocket for good luck. The big day has finally arrived. Has Ruby been able to internalize her Great Aunt’s tips in her quest to overcome her fears? How will the big speech go over?

This book can be used a  guide for anyone, child or adult, who is afraid to speak in public. Ruby’s story is in the format of an early chapter book and is an entertaining read for young readers. The author, who was once just like Ruby, is now a public speaking coach. The cast of characters included at the end of the book is a nice little time capsule of acting greats at the beginning of this century and is a bonus for those interested in the theater and the movies. I recommend this book as an interesting chapter book that promotes self-confidence  for those who are shy. Children and adults ages seven and up will enjoy the read.

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