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August 2016 BOOKLIST
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Many little girls dream of being ballerinas—the tutus, the twirling, the grace. And for some, that dream never dies. The following YA books include plots about murder mysteries, sacrifices, and romance. And, yes, lots and lots of dance.
Bunheads. By Sophie Flack. 2011. Little, Brown/Poppy, $17.99 (9780316186155). Gr. 8–12.
Nineteen-year-old Hannah has been with the Manhattan Ballet for five years, and now it looks as if starring roles are in her future. But as fame comes tantalizingly closer, Hannah begins to realize how much she has sacrificed for dancing. Flack, a former dancer at the New York City Ballet, ably captures the exhilaration that comes with pirouetting while an audience goes wild.
Dance of Shadows. By Yelena Black. 2013. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (9781599909400). Gr. 7–10.
Vanessa arrives at the New York Ballet Academy as the best young dancer to have auditioned. But there is more to her reason for coming than ballet. Her sister, Margaret, was a student there several years ago—until she disappeared. Now Vanessa wants to figure out what happened to Margaret, and she finds herself embroiled in a bizarre plot that has elements of the supernatural.
Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy. By Elizabeth Kiem. 2013. Soho Teen, $17.99 (9781616952631). Gr. 8–11.
Marya is a talented dancer like her mother, Sveta, but they are government pets in a strictly controlled society full of secrecy, where one small misstep can lead to sudden and permanent consequences. When their ruler dies and Sveta vanishes, Marya and her father plot an escape from Moscow. This atmospheric, suspenseful story is one of devotion and deception, innocence and independence, friendship and love, music and dance, immigration and coming-of-age.
Pirouette. By Robyn Bavati.
2013. Flux, paper, $9.99 (9780738734811). Gr. 7–10.
If The Parent Trap were set at a dance school, you’d have this story. The prologue sets the scene: twin girls in a Brazilian orphanage are to be adopted by different families, one in Melbourne, and one in Texas. A nurse switches the Texas baby for another headed to Australia; flash-forward 15 years, and the two are attending the same summer dance program, where they meet.
Someday Dancer. By Sarah Rubin. 2012. Scholastic/Chicken House, $16.99 (9780545393782). Gr. 6–9.
When Casey hears of an open ballet audition in New York City, the poor South Carolina girl with no formal dance training decides to battle for a spot. She knows in her heart that she is a natural dancer, born for the stage. How she winds up not a ballerina but a student of real-life modern dance doyenne Martha Graham forms the crux of this pleasant story set in 1959.
To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel. By Siena Cherson Siegel. Illus. by Mark Siegel. 2006. Simon & Schuster/Richard Jackson, $17.95 (9780689867477). Gr. 5–8.
This insightful, accessible, and aesthetically engaging graphic novel follows Siena Cherson Siegel’s dance career from her start at the age of six and her training as an adolescent at the School of American Ballet to her leaving professional dance when she reached college and then her return to it several years later. A candid view of an individual for whom ballet is essential to life.
Various Positions. By Martha Schabas. 2012. Farrar/Frances Foster, $17.99 (9780374380861). Gr. 9–12.
Fourteen-year-old Georgia dreams of ballet, so when the chance comes to get some distance from her dysfunctional family and attend Canada’s premier ballet school, she jumps with both feet. Georgia’s feelings become convoluted and messy as her attraction to the artistic director wars with his mixed signals and her fears of inappropriate behavior. Schabas’ debut gives outsiders a glance into the competitive world of ballet.
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