________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 14 . . . . March 17, 2006


Introducing Vivien Leigh Reid: Daughter of the Diva.

Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout.
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin (Distributed in Canada by H.B. Fenn), 2005.
227 pp., pbk., $13.95.
ISBN 0-312-33837-6.

Subject Headings:
Actors and actresses-Fiction.
Mothers and daughters-Fiction.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

*** /4


Now Starring Vivien Leigh Reid: Diva in Training.

Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout.
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin (Distributed in Canada by H.B. Fenn), 2006.
242 pp., pbk., $13.95.
ISBN 0-312-33839-2.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

*** /4


I got my driver's license months ago, on the first try and without any help from Dad. He took me for one short spin and totally freaked when I grazed a Porta-Potty at a nearby construction site. It didn't even tip over! That man is wound tighter than a Slinky.....If I want to go anywhere, I have to borrow Gran's old beater. Sometimes she shadows me in Stan's car. As if I wouldn't notice a huge white Chrysler 300 - the Moby Dick of cars - tailing me. Independence is a foreign concept in my family.

Today, Mom says, "I'm not running any lights to get you to class on time when you could have stopped at three changes of clothes instead of going for four."

The only way she could know this is true is if the mirror in my room is two-way glass. Either that or it takes her precisely four tries to get ready for a big day, but I refuse to believe that we're that much alike.

She pulls up in front of the Academy of Dramatic Arts and asks, "Do you want me to help you find the classroom?"

"Sure," I say, rolling my eyes. "Grab my stroller and let's go."

"Lose the sarcasm," she says, as I climb out of the car. "And fix your ponytail, it's scrunched."

Now she tells me. " (From Now Starring Vivien Leigh Reid.)


Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout are Canadian authors living in Toronto who have teamed up to present Vivien Leigh Reid to the world. These are the first two books of a series, and the pair is currently at work on a third.

     In the first novel, Introducing Vivien Leigh Reid, 15-year-old Leigh is sent to Ireland to join her mother, Annika, on the set of Annika's latest film. Leigh gets a bit part in the movie; the costar is a gorgeous young guy, and the entertainment builds from there.

     In Now Starring Vivien Leigh Reid, Leigh spends another summer with her mother in order to attend an acting school in Los Angeles. Here, she captures a role in Diamond Heights, a TV soap opera, and once again is attracted to - and distracted by - other actors. Occasionally she isn't sure if she's playing herself or her alter-ego - the soap character Willow.

     Students interested in actors and the entertainment industry will undoubtedly enjoy this series which is filled with romance and laughter as well as glimpses into the worlds of both film-making and television production. The backdrops of Ireland and Los Angeles are realistic and provide suitable settings for the action.

     Both novels are definitely tongue-in-cheek, with mother and daughter falling frequently into 'over the top' diva roles. Some time is spent on their developing mother/daughter relationship, but this is lost amid the superstar hype surrounding the two of them. Other characters in the books are also exaggerated and superficial, presumably a comment on life in the midst of stardom.

     Leigh, herself, is colourful and humorous, but more a caricature than a believable character. The authors seek to give her a tone which fits a 'with it' 15-year-old, but it often comes across as cynical and sassy. Like many young teens, Leigh seems to have difficulty finding the line between 'cute' and simply rude. The books are both written in the first person, and so her attitude is pervasive.

     Sections of the novels are dialogues from the movie or soap opera on which Leigh is working, and they add an interesting change of pace to the story as well as giving would-be actors a sense of what it might be like to take on a role, learn lines, be directed on stage, and so on. Leigh's imagination often has her creating scenes in her head and predicting (or at least wishfully thinking!) how events in her personal life will work out. These certainly add to the humour of the books.

     Occasionally Leigh's thoughts are expressed in text messages to friends which is another useful device to help readers understand her and to move the plot forward. For example,


Actin iz a lot harder

thN it l%kz. 1st dA

wz a disaster. d troll

wntd 2 kill me & my

mum wantz me 2 quit, which I won't. d onlE

gud tnh dat hapnd wz

dat Sean punched me n

d arm l8r & sed 'don't

GIV up kid.'

Ireland sux.

L (From Introducing Vivien Leigh Reid.)

     Both divas, mother and daughter, are aggravating yet endearing. The plots of both books are familiar and predictable and are basically the same story told twice with new characters and settings. These young adult novels will date easily and quickly and so are unlikely to become classics in a library collection. On the other hand, they are fun-filled and quirky and entertaining for a quick read.


Ann Ketcheson, a former teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French, now lives in Ottawa, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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