Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search


Cut the Lights

by (author) Karen Krossing

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Oct 2013
NON-CLASSIFIABLE, Depression & Mental Illness, Theater
Recommended Age
9 to 12
Recommended Grade
4 to 7
Recommended Reading age
9 to 12
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2013
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Briar has a vision for the one-act play she's been chosen to direct at her performing arts high school.

Briar is going to create a masterpiece. If only everyone involved in the production shared her vision. Her leading lady is gifted but troubled, her leading man has a crush on the leading lady, her stage manager doesn't have a clue, and her best friend, who wrote the play, is worried that Briar's production is cursed. As Briar struggles to motivate her cast and crew, she learns some important truths about the fine art of directing—and about herself.

This short novel is a high-interest, low-reading level book for middle-grade readers who are building reading skills, want a quick read or say they don’t like to read!

About the author

Karen Krossing grew up in Thornhill, Ontario, with a family who loved to read. What could she do but read, too? Karen began to create stories when she was eight, and she continued this habit by writing poetry in high school. By then she was hooked on books, so she studied English at university then became a book editor and a technical writer. After Karen had kids, she began writing fiction for children and teens.

Karen uses writing to understand the world around her. In Take The Stairs, which was nominated for the Ontario Library Association White Pine Award, she writes about turning adversity into opportunity through the troubled lives of inner-city teens. In Pure, her latest novel, she explores sticky ethical questions about genetic engineering that today's teens will have to face in their lifetimes.

Karen is a writing instructor at Centennial College and she teaches an after-school writing program for kids and teens through Pegasus Studios in Toronto. She led workshops at the 2003 Canadian Children's Book Camp in Toronto and was on tour with TD Canadian Children's Book Week in 2005. Karen regularly conducts writing workshops and book talks at Canadian schools.

For a detailed interview with Karen, go to For contact information, please visit

Karen Krossing's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Secondary characters are well realized, with the dialogue displaying their anger, frustration and joy...The novel is told in present tense which provides an immediacy and urgency to the tone that will satisfy the intended readership. Junior high students who are interested in the power, dynamics and politics of theatre will be especially attracted to this easily read, short novel."

Resource Links

"A fast-paced read...Cut the Lights builds to a satisfying conclusion and will appeal not only to budding performers, but also to any teen who has ever felt misunderstood."

National Reading Campaign

"A realistic portrayal of theatre work...[and] an excellent representation of a teenager who has high expectations for herself and others...Krossing shows that, while teenagers have goals and dreams, there are compromises that have to be made in order to succeed, especially when other people are involved in order to fulfill that dream...Highly Recommended."

CM: Canadian Review of Materials

"Without making Briar altruistic or unbelievable, Karen Krossing has created a character who learns to make good choices by considering others' needs, something most of us should do more often."

CanLit for Little Canadians

“Krossing is a confident, engaging writer, and the book’s setting is a kind of Glee-meets-Fame dream school that kids will find very appealing…Given how many kids dream of stardom, the Limelights series is sure to hold wide appeal.”

Quill & Quire

"Messages of teamwork, perseverance and pressure are woven throughout the novel, as well as lots of behind-the-scenes detail about what it takes to get a production to the stage. Fast-paced and full of drama, readers will be turning the pages, anxious to see the results of Briar’s efforts and to discover how her play, and her cast and crew, turn out in the end...This innovative series offers something for all kinds of readers whether they are directly involved in the performing arts or not. They are short, fast-paced and well executed—stories perfect for fans of performing arts-focused television shows such as Glee."

Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC) Canadian Children’s Book News

★ "Orca has long dedicated itself to publishing contemporary fiction for reluctant readers, and this entry into the Limelights line is one of their finest offerings...Krossing has done her research, filling her story with specifics...that any young thespian will recognize. A ticking clock—Briar has just four weeks of rehearsal—lends a level of tension greater than that of many books with higher stakes...An ideal read-alike for Raina Telgemeier’s Drama."

Booklist, starred review

"The plot develops quickly and is centered around Briar...This simplicity makes it ideal for reluctant readers. Drama enthusiasts will like Krossing's creative touch of beginning each chapter with a setting description, just like in a play."

Library Media Connection

"The characters were great, the concept was fresh and the writing was top-notch. Sure to delight young performers of all kinds (actors, musicians, dancers)!"

Young Writers Cafe

Other titles by