Shelf Talkers: Bunheads
I saw that the season finale of Bunheads just happened and I’m still (im)patiently awaiting Season 3 of Dance Academy** so I know there are some hardcore dance nuts out there who love all things dance. Years ago in another body in another lifetime, I was a dancer and spent 11 years in a ballet school and then danced on a national competition squad for 7 years. I love all things dance. Especially since when I bust a move, it’s leaning over in my office chair to get the Twix I dropped and completely busting my rear. True story. Okay, enough sharing time. Here are some dance books to whet your appetite and keep you dance happy for a little while!
Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You by Dorian Cirrone is an oldie-but-goodie! Tag line of this book: Ballet and big boobs don’t mix. Kayla is a ballet dancer in an arts academy in Florida and has her heart set on getting a solo in Cinderella at the spring recital. Instead, she’s cast as an ugly stepsister and then starts receiving messages and a pair of red pointe shoes in this odd mystery/body image teen book. It’s just a good light read and had several laugh out loud moments because Kayla has a really genuine voice and a serious problem in the ballet world…boobs.
(ISBN: 006005701X, HarperCollins, 2005)
Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe is a dance novel told in verse. Sara is a new student at a prestigious New Jersey dance school and is immediately feeling overwhelmed with all day rehearsals, schoolwork, and the constant criticism. But all of a sudden, choreographer Remington starts to show a lot of special interest in Sara. He’s several years older than she is and unsure of herself and lonely, she begins to fall for his charms. However, Sara discovers the power of writing and in doing so and through much self-reflection, she begins to question her choices and if this is really her dream or not. For fans of Ellen Hopkins’ type books and those who love high drama. Quote from the back of the book that I had to post: “Dare I tell them that since I came here to dance/I Have been giving pieces of my body away/To ridiculous diets,/To repeated injuries,/To Remington?/And that maybe/I think/With each bit of my body/I lose a little piece of my soul.’
(ISBN: 0670013197, Viking/Penguin, 2011)
From Goodreads: Casey Quinn has got more grace in her pinkie toe than all those prissy ballet-school girls put together, even if you’d never guess it from the looks of her too-long legs and dirty high-top sneakers. It’s 1959, and freckle-faced Casey lives in the red-dust countryside of South Carolina. She’s a farm girl: Her family can’t afford ballet lessons. But Casey’s dream is to dance in New York City. And if anyone tries to stand in her way, she’s going to pirouette and jeté right over them!
Casey’s got the grit, and Casey’s got the grace: Is that enough to make it in Manhattan someday? Or might the Big Apple have something even better in mind? When she meets a visionary choreographer she calls “Miss Martha,” Casey’s ballerina dream takes a thoroughly, thrillingly modern twist!
(ISBN: 0545393782, Chicken House/Scholastic Inc., 2012)
This one is a bit different than a typical ballet dancer type dance book, but I absolutely loved it. dancergirl by Carol M. Tanzman is about Alicia, a hardcore dancer who eat, sleeps, and breathes dance. One day, one of her classmates uploads a video of Ali dancing to the internet and it becomes viral. Which is awesome for Ali because she absolutely loves performing and she is loving all the attention that the video is getting. But somehow, a video of her dancing in her underwear is uploaded to the computer and Ali starts to get the wrong kind of attention and stalker who wants to do more than just watch her. Very creepy and completely could happen.
(ISBN: 037321040X, Harlequin, 2011)
Bunheads by Sophie Flack IS NOT ABOUT THE TV SHOW! That was a super popular misconception when all of the news about the show started and I, for one, was bummed because I really loved this book. Hannah Ward has been accepted to the Manhattan Ballet Company and starts the typical dance book drama with rehearsals, dancer, drama, etc. but the difference in this book is that Hannah falls for Jacob. Jacob is not a dancer but just an everyday guy and a handsome musician. Now, Hannah is torn between continuing on the path that she thought she always wanted or pursuing the life of a normal teenage girl. This book is brave, a bit older than other YA novels, but it perfectly captures Hannah’s angst and missing out at so much in life because of her dancing. (ISBN: 0316126535, Poppy, 2011)
I really had to include this one because this cover art is so fantastic! In fact, I bought Various Positions for the cover art alone before I had even read the blurb or anything. Perfect use of those collection development skills, right? This isn’t a book about what really happens at a dance academy. This isn’t a book about ballet. Yes, these things play a big role in the book, but there is much more to it all. Georgia is a young, inexperienced in the ways of the world, girl who has just been admitted into a ballet academy. It is obvious during the first few chapters before she enters the academy that because she is so involved in ballet and her dance classes, that she is no where near as mature as her other 9th grade classmates. Because her family ignores her, except for an older sister, Georgia only knows things by witnessing actions of her friends or by doing a GOOGLE search on sex. Thus, her inexperience paired with a lack of familial support and attention leads her to mistake an male teacher’s attention with romantic prospects. I am fairly certain that many teenage girls witness a longing for an older man around this age. The giggly feeling of coming into womanhood and the looks from older boys would lead any girl to this conclusion that those who look MUST be interested. This book is a wonderful representation of a troubled teenager’s misguided decisions and I really enjoyed the book.
(ISBN: 0385668767, Doubleday Canada, 2011)
*For you Dance Academy lovers, season 3 began filming on Monday and will air in mid-2013! I love this show so much! And if you haven’t fallen victim to this show yet, all episodes of seasons 1 and 2 are on Netflix Streaming. Prepare to spend the next few weeks glued to your TV and bring tissues.
Also, check out this Yalsa list of Fabulous Films for Young Adults 2012: Song and Dance
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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