written by Christine McDonnell
Viking Books for Young Readers, 2001
ages 9 and up
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With the help of her friend Margaret, Bea is able to fulfill her dreams of becoming a ballerina as she signs on for lessons, learns all the steps, and successfully wins the role as the star performer in The Nutcracker.
“A middle-grade novel about a hockey-playing girl named Bea who is bitten by the “ballet bug.” The earnest young dancer advances remarkably quickly in her lessons, presumably because of her hockey skills, and after just a few weeks of ballet classes, she wins a small part in the dance school production of The Nutcracker. Short chapters follow Bea and her two friends through rehearsals and lessons, punctuated with a raft of problems caused by a pair of evil twin sisters out to eliminate the competition. Bea is a likable main character, and there is plenty of inside talk about both the backstage world and the dance school to satisfy young readers bitten by the ballet bug themselves.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“After she attends a slumber party for ballet-crazy Rebecca and watches the ballet Cinderella on a video, hockey-playing Bea gets the bug. She begins to take lessons and really enjoys them except for a pair of mean-spirited twins who try to spoil things for everyone. Maintaining a commitment to hockey and ballet becomes challenging when Bea has an opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker and discovers how much hard work is involved in a successful performance. She also manages to thwart a plot by the twins to ruin the debut of her new friend Margaret in the role of Clara when the child selected to play the part becomes ill. Through Bea, the excitement and challenge of the ballet world are appealingly captured. The twins are convincing villains-spoiled, whining, and vindictive-and definitely deserve a boo or two for their performance. This is a fast, fun read with a feisty main character and some interesting subplots, such as the reluctance of the ballet group to cast Margaret, a talented young black dancer, in the role of Clara even though she did the best audition. As Margaret and Bea both triumph, readers will applaud their successes.” (School Library Journal)