Hello, friends! Our book today is A is for Audra: Broadway’s Leading Ladies From A to Z, written by John Robert Allman and illustrated by Peter Emmerich, a stylish celebration of the greatest lady thespians of the Great White Way.
Told in appropriately lyrical rhyming text, this biographical alphabet book is packed to the gills with some of the most notable women to walk the boards. From household names like Julie Andrews and Barbra Streisand, to breakout stars like Lea Salonga and Heather Headley, to Broadway royalty like Patti LuPone and Idina Menzel, nearly 70 women altogether are showcased.
Showstopping! This book was a gift from JJ’s aunt (we majored in theater together), and while I expected that I would love it, I was tickled to find that JJ adored it too! And it’s easy to see why: even kiddos and adults without a background in theater will be swept away by the colorful, dynamic illustrations and well-crafted text. There’s a decent attempt at diversity of the ladies; the women featured are largely white or black (though this also speaks to a larger issue of diversity casting in theater), but the creators are sure to include women of all ages and sizes, their likenesses celebrating unique physical features and expressions. Fosse and Sondheim get nods as well for their focus on spotlighting female talent and range. It’s a feast for the eyes and a delight to read aloud, and JJ has been enchanted with the divas’ faces and stories since we got it. It’s even a fairly quick read, yet adds brief bios (cleverly reminiscent of Playbill actor bios) for those hoping to learn more. This one can be enjoyed by anyone who celebrates the power and talent of female artists, but for fans of the theater, it is a must-have. Emphatically Baby Bookworm approved!