Lulu the Broadway Mouse


By Jenna Gavigan

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Ratatouille meets Broadway in this charming new middle grade novel about a little mouse with big dreams.

Lulu is a little girl with a very big dream: she wants to be on Broadway. She wants it more than anything in the world. As it happens, she lives in Broadway’s Shubert Theatre; so achieving her dream shouldn’t be too tricky, right? Wrong. Because the thing about Lulu? She’s a little girl mouse.

When a human girl named Jayne joins the cast of the show at the Shubert as an understudy, Lulu becomes Jayne’s guide through the world of her theatre and its wonderfully kooky cast and crew. Together, Jayne and Lulu learn that sometimes dreams turn out differently than we imagined; sometimes they come with terms and conditions (aka the company mean girl, Amanda). But sometimes, just when we’ve given up all hope, bigger and better dreams than we’d ever thought could come true, do.



NOT TO BRAG (WELL, THIS IS MY STORY, SO I guess if I’m going to brag, this is the place to do it, right?), but my house is the most beautiful, most magical, most jaw-droppingly fabulous place in the world. (If I’m going to brag, I may as well full-out brag, right?)

How do I know these facts, you ask? How am I certain that my house is all these things and more? Sure, it’s the only place I’ve ever lived. Sure, I’ve never been off Forty-Fourth Street, let alone the island of Manhattan. Sure, you’re telling yourself that “my house is the most beautiful, most magical, most jaw-droppingly fabulous place in the world” should be categorized as an opinion, rather than a fact. A fact needs to be proven, right?

Hold on a second. This is a novel, not some scientific document. It’s a story, my story, so if I say something’s true, it’s true. But to appease all you science lovers out there, I’ll give you a bit of information about my house and you can come to your own conclusion—you can deduce. (Ugh, I sound like that know-it-all Amanda. More on her later…)

On my house’s ornate, hand-painted ceiling hang four prizewinning pumpkin-sized crystal chandeliers. In my house’s biggest room there are precisely one thousand four hundred forty-seven blue-green velvet seats. There are more than a dozen rooms full of makeup and wigs and costumes, and the people who inhabit these rooms are the best, most interesting, most loving people you’ll ever meet. Sometimes, it’s so quiet you could hear a pin drop (literally, there are hundreds of pins of different varieties all over the building), but gloriously loud at other times with the sounds of instruments and singing and (sigh) applause. I mean, really, is there anything more twitterpating than the sound of applause?

If you’ve yet to guess what kind of house I live in, then this may not be the story for you. But please keep reading because some grown-up already bought the book for you, and they (and I) will be heartbroken if you don’t finish it.

My house? It’s a theatre. A Broadway theatre. (And yes, it’s theatre not theater. I’m not being fancy, it’s just correct.)

I know what you’re thinking. This narrator is bluffing. She’s a liar. She’s a fraud! People don’t live in Broadway theatres. Sure, they work in theatres. They sew costumes, move scenery, or play the trombone. They (big sigh) perform onstage. But people certainly don’t live in Broadway theatres.

Well, dear reader, you are correct. People don’t. But mice, mice certainly do. She’s a mouse, you say? Excellent powers of deduction, dear reader. ’Tis true. I’m Lulu the Mouse, and the Shubert Theatre at 225 West 44th Street in New York City? It’s my house.

Now that you know my address and my name, you really only need to know one more thing about me in order to read my story.

It’s the thing I daydream and nightdream about.

The thing I wish for and hope for and practice for.

The thing that makes me… well… different from other mice.

I want to be on Broadway. I want it more than anything in the world.



LUCY LOUISE!” A BOOMING VOICE YELLS. NO microphone necessary; ladies and gentlemen, meet my mother. Unlike most parents, who reserve full-name hollers for when a kid’s in trouble, my mother insists on calling me by my full name at all times. It’s like all these years later, she’s still proud of its adorable alliterativeness (aka the back-to-back Ls). I mean, I’m not a baby anymore. Get over it, lady. You know what else is adorable and alliterative? Lulu, my nickname and stage name. Try it sometime. (P.S. I love my mom more than I love cookies, tap shoes, and Stephen Sondheim. P.P.S. Don’t tell Stephen Sondheim.)

“Kinda busy, Mom,” I yell back. I’m in my nest stretching: legs in a wide V, arms out in front of me so my stomach is almost flat on the ground. So help me, I will be able to do a center split by spring.

“I gave birth to you, young lady!” Mom shouts. See? She’s obsessed. “You have twenty seconds to sit down for dinner!”

“Coming!” I practically sing as I dramatically whip around my neck like a scarf the piece of chartreuse ribbon our costumer Bet gave me, careful not to get it caught in my whiskers. I learned this signature move from Heather Huffman, one of our most glamorous cast members. She’s famous for her entrances, exits, and impossibly high heels. When we first met, I looked up at her and said, “Wow, you’re tall,” and she replied, “Honey, it’s the shoes.” Since then, we’ve been as close to best friends as a (human) grown-up and (mouse) kid can be.

I emerge from my nest to find my dad setting our dining room table, which just happens to be a vintage dictionary, circa 1925. Scurrying around the layers of rusty pipes and old wires that line the ceiling above our dining room table are my four brothers. Yes, you read that correctly: four brothers. (Shout-out to any youngest siblings with a big family of mostly boys. We’ll get through this together.)

If in the future I mention “the Hooligans” please know I’m referring to my big brothers, whose actual names are Walter Brooks, Matthew, Timothy, and Benjamin—Walt, Matty, Timmy, and Benji for short. (Walt is my parents’ firstborn, so they named him after the Walter Kerr and Brooks Atkinson Theatres, aka my parents’ childhood homes. Don’t ask why they didn’t just give Matthew the name Brooks, unless you want to listen to a very long story about tradition and ancestors and yada blah blah, don’t ask.)

“Boys!” my mother snaps. “I sewed on so many beads today I can barely see straight. Your father went to work at five a.m. and has been cooking for the last hour. Sit. Down. Now.”

Hooligans dismount their jungle gym of pipes and wires and proceed to fight over seats—even though we’ve been sitting on the same matchboxes since the beginning of time—and then finally settle in.

“Nice scarf, Lulu.” This is Benji. He’s only a tiny bit older than I am and had trouble saying “Lucy Louise” when he was little, so I’ve got him to thank for my très chic (that’s French for “very fancy”), marquee-ready nickname. I’ve got Walt and Matty to thank for the little hook at the end of my tail. One of them—we’re still not sure which, as they’re identical twins—stepped on me when I was three weeks old and the end of my tail has looked like a witch’s finger ever since.

“Thanks. It’s silk. Don’t touch it.” They’re forever touching things with their (frankly) filthy feet.

My dad barely has time to get his signature Tuesday night corn soufflé on the table before my brothers are devouring it like the little beasts they are. It’s a good thing I’m small and don’t need much food. Honestly.

“Chew, please!” Mom says. My mother may sound like she’s scolding, but in truth she’s just a loud New Yorker who enjoys nothing more than “watching her loves eat.”

Per usual, my dad made himself a separate soufflé sans salt; he’s got an issue with salt, the issue being, he can’t have any or his ears will explode. No, not literally. Long story short, he’s got this inner ear disease and salt makes him dizzy and pukey and he’d far rather eat bland food than be sick all the time, so… no salt for him.

“Thank you for this beautiful meal, dear,” my mother says.

“You’re very welcome,” my dad says.

Married forever and my parents still look at each other like they’re teenagers in love. Heather Huffman says this kind of love is “more rare than the Hope Diamond.” She knows everything.

“How was work?” my mother asks.

“Oh, fine. Fine. Nothing to report. Cold out today,” Dad says.

I have zero idea what my dad does for work nor do I really care because I’m positive it has nothing to do with the theatre. My mom, on the other hand, works in the wardrobe department with Bet, our head costumer and seamstress. Yes, like the mice in Cinderella. We’re cool with the comparisons. Those mice did a lot of good for the image of our species.

“Let’s ‘talk about day,’” my mother says. Apparently when he was tiny, Timmy looked up at my mom from his nest and said, “Talk about day?” in an effort to keep her from leaving. Since then “talk about day” is a dinnertime, pre-bedtime tradition in the Mouse family.

“Not much to tell,” Walt says.

“This is true,” Matty says, not-so-slyly winking at Walt.

“So, you weren’t in the basement of the Broadhurst playing with those boys I told you not to play with?” my mother asks. “That was just a heinous rumor?”

“H-I-E-N-O-U-S,” Walt recites.

“H-E-I,” Timmy says with a smart smile.

“Oh, like you’re such a saint,” Matty says. “I saw you reading that Frozen program. Did it just magically fly across Forty-Fourth Street?”

“That’s enough,” my dad says. “Benji. How about you?”

“I helped stage management with some paperwork,” Benji says. “Audience attendance is up, despite the weather.” The moment they let mice produce a Broadway show, Benji will be ready.

“Lulu?” my mother asks.

“I’ve almost got my center split,” I say. “And I think I finally mastered the tap combination for the Act Two finale.”

“I’m sure you have,” my mother says, in that way mothers do. “And your sewing practice?”

“I’ll get to it,” I say. And I will. I never lie to my mother. “It’s just—”

“Rehearsing the show is more fun,” my mother says.

Just then, a rumble from upstairs. A gentle vibration, a hum, a murmur. I always feel it first, before hearing it. Activity. Something beginning. If you’ve ever seen the musical West Side Story, think of the song the lead guy, Tony, sings at the beginning about “something coming”—that’s how I’m feeling right now.

I look at the clock: 6:30. All this fussing over my silk chartreuse ribbon-scarf and measly portion of corn soufflé and I almost missed it.

“Company, this is your Half-Hour call,” Pete’s voice booms over the intercom. “Half Hour, please, Half Hour.”

“Half Hour already?” my dad says.

“You know we do Tuesdays at seven now, Dad.” He knows this.

“Oh, that’s right. Well, no daughter of mine can be late for her Half-Hour call. Hurry up, Lulu,” Dad says. “I’ll keep some soufflé warm for you in case you’re hungry later.”

“Thank you!” I kiss him on the cheek and scurry off faster than you can say “Hocus Pocus should be a Broadway musical.”

“But come right down after the first number, miss!” my mom calls after me. “Get that sewing practice done before bed and then you won’t have to worry about it tomorrow.”

I’m running, now. Actually running. If a human walked by, they’d probably mistake me for a whirling ball of flying dust. Being late for Half Hour is a really big deal. Half Hour means that the show will begin in, well… a half an hour. If a cast member isn’t in the building and signed in on the sign-in sheet by Half Hour, they can’t perform. And while on paper I’m not an actual cast member, I sure am in my heart.

“Lucy Louise!” she shouts again.

“Yes, Mom, I heard you! Sewing before bed!” I belt.

I get to our living room door (aka the entrance to the basement level of backstage) and weave my way up the rubber-coated, nonslip stairs to the dressing rooms.



MY EYELASH, PLEASE,” HEATHER HUFFMAN instructs, holding out her hand, into which I place her left eyelash. (Hold, please. Let me be clear: these are false eyelashes. She buys them in bulk at Duane Reade, preferably with a coupon. What’s that you say? Broadway actors have to buy their own makeup? It’s true. Bananas, right?)

Heather Huffman expertly taps on just the right amount of eyelash glue, blows on it to dry it a bit so it’s not goopy, then applies it to her lash line. I’ve seen her do this exactly three hundred and twenty-two times, but it never gets old.

“Did I tell you I looked into getting the semi-permanent ones applied?” she asks. She has told me.

“Nope,” I fib. Heather Huffman loves to talk, and I love to listen.

“Well, let’s just say, I can either pay my rent or have semi-permanent eyelashes put on,” H.H. says matter-of-factly. “Liner, please.”

“Charcoal or brown-ish black?” These are the two she frequents the most.

“It’s the first show of the week. It’s snowing. Let’s spice things up. Rum Raisin.” I roll her the fabled liner; the last time she used it was on her birthday when she needed to be “reminded of her youth.” Whatever you do, do not ask Heather Huffman her age.

H.H. looks into her magnifying mirror and cringes. “If my eyes weren’t so bad, I would throw this witchy mirror right out the window. The evils it shows me. I swear I was just twenty-two.” Then she looks at me and says, “Did I mention that color is heavenly on you? Chartreuse. Tricky color, but not for you.” And she really means it.

“Thanks!” I grin. “Time for stockings?”

“Indeed,” H.H. says.

Our stocking routine is as follows, and please note, we’ve gotten it down to under twenty-five seconds, start to finish. She tosses her stockings down to the floor, then I scurry down her legs, bunch up the stockings with my feet—gently, so I don’t rip them—and she easily slides her feet into them and efficiently pulls them up her legs. Try this bundling technique the next time you put on leggings or stockings. It’s brilliant. Promise.

Heather Huffman has what we in show business call “legs for days,” which basically means her legs are much longer and leaner than most, perfect for dancing, posing, and making an entrance, be it onstage or at the diner. She made her Broadway debut at age eighteen, in a show called La Cage aux Folles, in which she played a boy who dressed like a girl. She’s been working steadily ever since. She’s very proud of the fact that she’s never had a job outside of show business. “Steady employment in show business is not the norm, Lulu. They should tell them that at theatre school graduation. Or better yet, at application. Ha! I love it when I rhyme unintentionally.”

Post-stocking routine, H.H. begins to “prep” her hair, which is something every performer has to do before his or her wig goes on. (Some choose to do it themselves; some have our hair supervisor Jeremiah or another member of the hair staff do it for them.) H.H. sits in front of her mirror, picks up a section of her honey-colored hair—there will be a dozen or so sections by the time this process is over—and begins to wind it around her finger, pinning the curl tightly in place at her scalp with two bobby pins. As she moves on to pin curl number two we hear: “I’m here, I’m here. Don’t panic. I’m here.”

In whirls Jodie Howard, her show wig already on and four tote bags falling off of her snow-coated shoulders. I have never seen Jodie Howard without at least one tote bag on each shoulder. In her own words, she “lugs her life around in them.” Need anything—aspirin, dental floss, a Lipton tea bag—she’s your gal.

“You’re late,” Heather Huffman says, calmly pinning down a third curl. If I had to compare the ladies to weather, Heather Huffman would be a rainstorm. She’s steady and much welcomed most of the time, with an occasional burst of thunder and lightning. But Jodie Howard? I say this with love: she’s a tornado.

“I practically hurled myself into the theatre at six thirty-one,” Jodie says, loudly. “Pete looked the other way, the saint. I went straight into hair.” She may be a tornado but she’s also hands down one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. She’s loud, she’s sassy; she’s a self-described “hoot.” She’s Scuttle from The Little Mermaid, if Scuttle were a middle-aged blonde woman from Long Island.

Jodie and H.H. share a dressing room. Neither of them was happy about it at first—both claimed they had reached a level in their careers that warranted private dressing rooms—but they love each other now. After their first week in the theatre during Tech, once they’d gotten to know each other a bit more (thanks to a week of back-to-back twelve-hour days), Heather Huffman admitted she’d been a bit jealous of Jodie, which was why she’d fought the roommate situation.

“A regular person’s ego is a powerful thing, Tiny.” H.H. calls me Tiny because, well, I’m tiny.

“An actress’s ego is a powerful monster.” She felt it was important for me—“as a female”—to understand the difference between jealousy and envy. See? She knows everything.

“Envy,” she told me, midsip of her nonfat latte, “envy is when you want what someone else has. I’m envious of my sister’s emerald-cut engagement ring, for example.”

“I feel ya,” I said. “It’s so sparkly.” She and her sister go to lunch between shows every Saturday so I’ve met her—and the ring—dozens of times.

“Jealousy is when you’re worried someone is trying to take what you have.” She explained she was jealous of Jodie, of her ability to be the center of attention. H.H. had always been the center of attention, and she wasn’t ready to give it up.


  • "Jenna manages to capture the drama and tension and excitement of the theatre without ever losing the magic and joy of what it feels like to be on Broadway. Lulu's burning desire to be onstage was exactly how I felt when I was younger, and reading this book reawakened that feeling in me!"—-Tony nominee Jonathan Groff
  • "A wonderfully crafted and unfailingly entertaining read from beginning to end."—Midwest Book Review
  • While the book will be embraced by children (and adults) with a passion for theater, the lessons that are offered are universal and told in a way that all readers will embrace the joy that is both the heart of Lulu and Lulu the Broadway Mouse.Times Beacon Record
  • This lightsome fantasy and valentine to Broadway theater puts readers amid backstage hustle and bustle. A performer herself, author Jenna Gavigan knows the scene so well, you can practically smell the greasepaint.—Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • "Preteens who are star-struck for Broadway will enjoy the drama."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "Jenna Gavigan is a true Broadway baby whose backstage debut novel will delight theater kids of all ages (and species)!"—--Tim Federle, author of Better Nate than Ever
  • "A standing ovation for Lulu! This delightful debut serves up a sweet and sassy mouse's-eye view of life in the footlights from a real Broadway insider. Encore, please?"
    Heather Vogel Frederick, author of the Spy Mice, the Mother-Daughter Book Club, and the Pumpkin Falls Mystery series

On Sale
Oct 9, 2018
Page Count
256 pages
Running Press Kids

Jenna Gavigan

About the Author

Jenna Gavigan, a fourth generation New Yorker, grew up dreaming of Broadway. At age sixteen she made her Broadway debut in Gypsy, opposite Bernadette Peters. Since then she’s appeared in a half-dozen films, on more than a dozen television shows, and on east and west coast stages, most recently Off-Broadway in the world premiere of Straight. Jenna graduated from Columbia University with a BA in Creative Writing, where she focused on fiction, television, and screenwriting. She lives in a teeny tiny Manhattan apartment with her husband, Kevin.

Learn more about this author