cover image Dancing Through the Shadows

Dancing Through the Shadows

DK Publishing, Theresa Tomlinson. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $14.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-2459-4

Themes of courage, survival and rebirth are explored in this story of a teenager coping with her mother's illness. Ellen's excitement over her year-end dance recital and summer vacation at the beach is cut short the day she learns her mother has breast cancer. Later that day, she discovers another secret: her history teacher, Miss Corrigan (Corrie) has found the site of an ancient, sacred well behind the school and has begun to unearth the remains. Tomlinson (Riding the Waves) counterpoints lofty lore about the well and its healing powers with earthbound, sometimes blunt dialogues about the progression of Ellen's mother's disease (""The truth is, it's not really the thought of feeling sick or tired that bothers me. It's not even the thought of my hair falling out. It's the needles! Lots of injections. That's my real dread,"" says Ellen's mother). The author's subtlety allows readers to draw their own conclusions from the parallels between the excavation of the well (in which Ellen takes part) and the resurrection of the heroine's lagging spirits and her mother's gradual recovery. Tomlinson addresses painful truths about the progression of cancer and at the same time celebrates the resiliency of body and spirit. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)