The Positively Last Performance by Geraldine McCaughrean

The Positively Last Performance

Written by Geraldine McCaughrean

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal 2014 Award winning Geraldine McCaughrean spins a brilliantly fanciful yarn in the magical setting of a disused theatre. Every night amazing things happen in the theatre but no one except the resident ghosts can see them. But then Gracie comes along; Gracie can see the ghosts. At first, it is a bit of a shock for Mikey the Mod, Jim and Joanie the twins, the wonderful Miss Melluish and the rest but soon they understand that Gracie maybe just who they need to save the theatre. Geraldine McCaughrean has a rare ability to bring to life a huge and varied cast of fascinating and unusual characters in a story that brings ghosts vividly to life.

A personal message from the author to Lovereading4kids and our readers:

In 2011 I got a phone call from The Theatre Royal, Margate - not just a glorious theatre but a great force for good in its locality. They suggested a book that would show towns like Margate as places with a cheerful future as well as a powerful past. In short they asked me to attempt a sort of literary Tracey Emin! This needed to be a family book, enjoyable not just to children but to anyone who fondly recalls seaside holidays when the sky was always sunny, the candyfloss sticky and there were donkeys on the beach... oh and to anyone who likes theatre or a good read. I hope to goodness I've succeeded, because it matters. A proportion of the proceeds from this book will go to The Theatre Royal, Margate - Margate's greatest asset - except of course, for its inhabitants."


The Positively Last Performance is an ideal book for a Reading Group, perfect for years 5,6,7 and 8. Download a Reader's Guide, from the right hand column, with notes to help you explore the novel, extra information about the book and ideas for talking points.


The Positively Last Performance by Geraldine McCaughrean

The performances at The Royal Theatre are extraordinary. You'd have to see them to believe them! But that's the problem. Nobody can see them. Except Gracie, that is. Newly arrived in her favourite seaside town and its beautiful old theatre, Gracie's quickly making friends. There's Mikey the Mod who wears a parka and drives a scooter, Miss Melluish whose skirt is missing, and Frank Stuart, the maker of mechanical elephants. But the old theatre is under threat. Will Gracie and her friends be able to save their home, or is the curtain set to fall on their very last performance?


McCaughrean is a stylist. Her prose is a pleasure to read, and reads as if it was a pleasure to write. There's a lightness about it, a whimsical humour, and a singular relish for language. The Guardian

Everybody should read Geraldine McCaughrean Philip Reeve

An author incapable of writing a dull sentence, Nicholas Tucker, Independent

Yet another outstanding novel from the remarkably talented Geraldine McCaughrean ... a beautifully crafted piece with an endearing cast of characters, with not a word wasted. Marilyn Brocklehurst, The Bookseller

Funny and touching, true-to-life and whimsical, sad and warm-hearted. It is beautifully written, managing to combine tragedy and comedy in one satisfying whole, and it deserves to become a classic. The Bookbag

About the Author

Geraldine McCaughrean

It’s over 30 years now since I first got published, and 50 since I discovered how writing carried me out of my little, everyday world, wherever I chose – way back in Time, to far distant shores, towards my own, home-made happy ending. I write adventure, first and foremost, because that’s what I enjoyed reading as a child. But since I have published over 160 titles now, there are books are every taste and age among them – gorgeously illustrated picture books, easy-readers, prize winners, teenage books and five adult novels (soon to be freshly released as ebooks).

Teen novel The White Darkness won the Printz Award in the USA, which, for this Englishwoman was an amazing, startling thrill. Other prizes have included the Whitbread Children’s Book Award (three times), the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Smarties Bronze Award (four times), the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award and the Blue Peter Special Book to Keep for Ever. Although I have only won the much coveted Carnegie Medal once, seven of my titles have been shortlisted for it, the latest being The Middle of Nowhere.

Then there is Peter Pan in Scarlet – official sequel to J M Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy, written on behalf of Great Ormond Street Hospital. I won the chance to write that in a worldwide competition, and because Peter Pan is loved everywhere, my book sold worldwide too. It is soon to appear on stage and, just possibly, in the cinema.

I can’t say I expected any of this when, as a child, I dreamed of being like my older brother and ‘getting a book published one day’.

I was born and grew up in Enfield, North London. I trained as a teacher and then worked for ten years in TV and publishing. These days, I am lucky enough just to stay home and write. I have a husband (good at continuity and spelling) and a daughter who is an excellent editor. Having studied at Rada, she is now an actor so, naturally, I have turned my hand to writing plays. (So many actors, so few plays!) Some of my plays are for schools and young people, so you can find them in book form.

My Mum told me, “Never boil your cabbages twice, dear,” which was her way of saying, “Don’t repeat yourself.” So I have tried never to write the same book twice. You’ll find all my novels quite different from one another. I’m afraid that the only way you can find out which ones you like and which you don’t is to read them. Something for everyone, you see, my dear, young, not-so-young, eccentric, middle-of-the-road, poetical, sad, cheerful, timid or reckless reader. All they have in common is that they contain words. If you are allergic to words, you’d best not open the covers.

Geraldine lives in Berkshire with her husband.

Author photo © Brett Williams U.K.

Anne Fine on Geraldine McCaughrean:

'I reckon Geraldine McCaughrean knocks the socks off every other children's writer today. Everything she does is different and everything works – look at her list of prizes. She must write in tremendous bursts. Some years, she's so prolific the rest of us start joking that the fairies come in at night to do her work for her. Then she'll go quiet, so unlike all those writers who are persuaded by their publishers to come up with something every year, no matter how tired or drab. If Geraldine has nothing fresh to write, she doesn't write it.' (The Guardian)

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Book Info


272 pages


Geraldine McCaughrean
More books by Geraldine McCaughrean

Author's Website


Oxford University Press

Publication date

6th February 2014




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