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Not Starring Zadie Louise

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About The Book

In this “entertaining and moving” (Kirkus Reviews) middle grade novel that’s perfect for fans of Tim Federle and Gordon Korman, Zadie is determined to spend the summer helping at the community theater—but things go hilariously awry!

Zadie loves Tae Kwon Do, comic books, and outer space. She also loves visiting the community theater that her mom runs, especially the lighting grid over the stage and the stage manager’s booth, which is filled with levers and buttons like a spaceship control panel. So when the family’s finances suffer a blow and Zadie has to give up her usual activities to spend the summer at the theater, she doesn’t mind too much. After all, she’s always wanted to tech a show.

She knows she’d be great at it, but her mom and the new stage manager are totally opposed to the idea of having a kid do tech. Instead, Zadie’s stuck handing out snacks and folding flyers. But the future of the theater rides on this show, and Zadie is determined to help. She’s going to make Spinderella the hit of the season—unless she accidentally turns it into a disaster.


Chapter 1: No Gravity

1 No Gravity
These are the most cosmically awesome places at my mom’s theater:

The lighting grid, where I pretend I’m an alien, studying the bizarre behavior of the earthlings below. (And I tell you what: actors might as well be a whole other species.)

The trapdoor, but really the hidden space underneath the trapdoor, where it sounds like a rocket ship heading into orbit when a bunch of kids clomp across the stage up above.

The stage manager’s booth, with more screens and switches than the control panel at the International Space Station, where I’ve never been but will go someday.

And this is the absolute-no-doubt-about-it least cosmically awesome place in the Bainbridge Youth Theater:

The stage.

About The Author

Photograph © Joy McCullough-Carranza

Joy McCullough writes books and plays from her home in the Seattle area, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is the author of the middle grade novels Across the Pond, A Field Guide to Getting LostNot Starring Zadie LouiseCode Red, and Basil & Dahlia, as well as the middle grade series Team Awkward, and the picture books Harriet’s Ruffled Feathers, Champ and Major: First Dogs, and The Story of a Book. Her debut novel Blood Water Paint was longlisted for the National Book Award and was a William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist. Visit her at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (June 21, 2022)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534496231
  • Ages: 8 - 99

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Raves and Reviews

"McCullough adeptly gives voice to a plucky, STEM-focused bicultural girl growing up in an intergenerational family whose members work through their problems together. . . An entertaining and moving story about family, friendship, and finding your place."

– Kirkus Reviews

"Employing Beezus and Ramona–like family dynamics surrounding financial worries, sibling spats, and a significant transition involving a beloved family member, McCullough writes a relatable fish-out-of-water story, centering themes of passion and perseverance amid life change."

– Publishers Weekly

Awards and Honors

  • Children's Sequoyah Book Award Master List (OK)

Resources and Downloads

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More books from this author: Joy McCullough