cover image Dancing in the Wings

Dancing in the Wings

Debbie Allen. Dial Books, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2501-0

The creators of Brothers of the Knight here offer an inspirational story of a hopeful young ballet dancer who complains of her too-big feet and too-long legs: ""I was too big for the boys to pick up, and too tall to be in line with the other girls. So I watched from backstage, dancing in the wings, hoping that if I just kept dancing and trying, it would be my turn to dance in the spotlight."" Though her brother and several of her peers constantly razz her, Sassy's uncle encourages her to audition for a role in a summer dance festival, asserting, ""All you gotta do to make your mark on the world is walk into a room."" The director of the festival echoes this sentiment when he announces--in the book's foreseeable denouement--that Sassy has landed a place in his program. Allen's wordy narrative occasionally tries too hard to be hip (featuring such slang put-downs as ""Your mama"" and ""Talk to the hand""), but this tale may well boost the confidence of youngsters who share Sassy's lack of self-assuredness. Nelson's animated illustrations depict Sassy with a grace that belies her self-image and that effectively foreshadows the accolades to come. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)