Aria of the Sea

Aria of the Sea

4.7 17
by Calhoun

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On the island of Normost, in the kingdom of Windward, 13-year-old Cerinthe Gale is a folk healer who dreams of being a dancer. When her mother falls ill, Cerinthe fights to save her — but fails. She blames herself for her mother’s death, gives up healing, and decides to pursue dance. Cerinthe travels across Windward to audition at the School of the

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On the island of Normost, in the kingdom of Windward, 13-year-old Cerinthe Gale is a folk healer who dreams of being a dancer. When her mother falls ill, Cerinthe fights to save her — but fails. She blames herself for her mother’s death, gives up healing, and decides to pursue dance. Cerinthe travels across Windward to audition at the School of the Royal Dancers, which accepts her even though she is a commoner. It should be the beginning of a brilliant future, but Cerinthe feels an emptiness she can’t identify. A disagreement with a young man, a conflict with a cruel teacher, a rivalry with an aristocratic classmate, Elliana, and a meeting with a mederi — a healer with magical powers — add to her anguish. When the rivalry between the two girls causes a terrible accident, Elliana’s life hangs in the balance. Cerinthe faces the same awful choice she had faced with her mother: Should she try to heal Elliana herself or hope that the mederi arrives in time? Only the song of the Sea Maid holds the answer.

Aria of the Sea is an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a Book Sense 76 Recommended Children’s Book, and a New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Compelling." — Publishers Weekly

"This [is a] wondrous tale of competition, self-discovery, and forgiveness . . . Characters in this novel are memorable and true, flesh and blood to readers." — Voice of Youth Advocates

Publishers Weekly
In this compelling novel set in a fantasy maritime kingdom, a 13-year-old girl is torn between her natural talents as a healer and her love of dancing. According to PW, "What readers will remember are the exceedingly well drawn atmospheric setting and the winning heroine." Ages 10-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Thirteen-year-old Cerinthe Gale is the high-spirited heroine of this YA novel from the author of Firegold, and her quest to be a dancer is the moving force in the quick-stepping story. Hope lies in every action of young Cerinthe's even as it lay in the stitches her mother sewed into her dancing garments. Calhoun sketches her impulsive young heroine with grace. The story moves along at a comfortable pace, culminating in a satisfying conclusion in which Cerinthe achieves a goal nearly in danger of going unrealized and, more importantly, achieves a sense of self. The fantasy world of this story is rendered in a tapestry-like manner, barring only a few places where narrative seemed mildly anachronistic. 2000, Winslow Press, $15.95. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
Set in the fantasy kingdom of Windward, this wondrous tale of competition, self-discovery, and forgiveness chronicles the life of Cerinthe Gale, a thirteen-year-old healer who dreams of being a dancer. She blames herself for not being able to save her dying mother. Still in mourning, she travels across Windward to audition at the School of the Royal Dancers. Her acceptance might mean the start of a wonderful career, but a series of unfortunate choices instead leave her a menial laundress at the school. She eventually secures a position in the troupe, only to find herself in a dangerous rivalry with the school's star pupil, Elliana. Unlike many fantasy novels with a dance theme, Aria of the Sea offers readers more than just a glimpse at the art, taking a deeper look at faith, social class divisions, and individuality. Characters in this novel are memorable and true, flesh and blood to readers. Elliana appears mean and vindictive, but Cerinthe does not condemn her. Rather she tries to understand this girl who hates her, and in doing so, comes to terms with her own self-doubt and despair. With a strong female protagonist who has a passionate attachment to nature and the sea, Calhoun creates a world that completely pulls the reader into it. This first-person story will have wide appeal, and it is a highly recommended purchase for all public and school libraries. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Winslow, 262p, $15.95. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Dr. Stefani Koorey

SOURCE: VOYA, October 2000(Vol. 23, No. 4)

Calhoun has written Firegold, a gripping fantasy that is an ALA Best Book for YAs; she also spent her adolescence training in classical ballet. She combines fantasy and ballet training in this novel, which will certainly provide fascinating reading for many YAs. Her fantasy world is a maritime nation, in which the main religion focuses on worship of the Sea Maid. Young Cerinthe comes from a remote island to the center of culture to train at the School for Royal Dancers. The other students persecute her for being so poor and provincial. When her talent and hard work result in her getting a lead role, the other students only resent her more. Much of this novel in fact has all the elements of the successful boarding school story, with cliques, persecution, at least one ghastly student who holds the power to reject or accept any student, sneaking out to escape the authoritarian teachers, and so on. Cerinthe loves dance and had promised her mother that she would become a famous dancer, but she is in despair because of the tyranny at the school, and because she cannot hear the song of the Sea Maid anymore, which in the past inspired and sustained her. The other skill Cerinthe had been learning on the faraway island is the skill of the healer. But when her ability failed with her dying mother, Cerinthe had decided to give up this pursuit. Now, at the School for Royal Dancers, Cerinthe sees again and again the need for good medical care; and when an accident happens, she puts aside her fears to save the other student from bleeding to death. This experience makes her wonder which direction she should take for her future. Calhoun's world is believable: it is a world that is something like aEuropean nation in the 18th century—except it doesn't share the Judeo-Christian worldview, of course, instead having a complex mythology all its own. The world of dance is a world in itself, and this is vividly created in this novel. Cerinthe seems older than a thirteen-year-old today, with thoughts of marriage and career haunting her. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2000, Winslow, 264p, 99-462306, $15.95. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Against great odds, 13-year-old Cerinthe Gale, a commoner from the outer regions of the kingdom, is chosen to study at the Royal School of Dance of Windward. She feels that she is on the way to fulfilling the dreams that her late mother had for her. This is important, for Cerinthe feels responsible for her death. As her mother lay desperately ill, the girl, a beginning folk healer, treated her with a dangerous drug, and the woman died. At the dance school, she meets Elliana, a wealthy and talented classmate who takes an immediate dislike to Cerinthe. As the rivalry between these two builds to its devastating climax, Cerinthe struggles to understand why she does not find fulfillment in dancing, and why she no longer hears the song of the Goddess Sea Maid. Ultimately, this is a story about recognizing and responding to one's calling. It is only when a reckless wager ends in a horrible accident that Cerinthe chooses to use her gifts as a healer and saves the life of her nemesis. She is then able to see that her real passion is for caring for the sick. This is a powerful message, which flows naturally out of the story line without ever being didactic. This fine story has elements of fantasy reminiscent of Monica Furlong's Wise Child (1989) and its sequel Juniper (1991, both Knopf; o.p.) as well as realistic descriptions of dance practice and performance.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Thirteen-year-old Cerinthe Gale is a folk healer who lives on the island of Normost in the kingdom of Windward, and dreams of being a dancer. When her mother becomes ill, Cerinthe strives to heal her but fails. With her mother's death, Cerinthe gives up healing to follow her dream to dance. She auditions at the School of the Royal Dancers — which accepts her even though she's a commoner. A misunderstanding with a young man, a conflict with a cruel teacher, a rivalry with an aristocratic student, and a meeting with a mederi (a skilled healer said to have magical powers) blend and combine to stand between Cerinthe and the realization of her dream to be a dancer. Can she overcome the awful choices life thrusts upon her? Aria Of The Sea is a superbly written, carefully crafted, totally engaging, highly recommended novel for young readers and would enhance any school or community library collection.
Kirkus Reviews
A gifted teenager agonizes over career choices while learning to separate her desires from those of others in this leisurely ballet-school fantasy from the author of Firegold (1999). Forget about a credible plot line. Believing that she has failed the entrance exam, Cerinthe finds a way into the School of Royal Dancers as a laundry maid. In fact, she received top marks, and once she's discovered she's not only promoted over the heads of others, but also given a lead role in an upcoming production staged for the royal family. There are two flies in the ointment, however: an arrogant, vicious rival, Elliana; and, in the wake of her failure to save her own mother's life after an accident, her utter refusal to use her training in herb lore and healing to help those in need. The author, a trained dancer, vividly evokes the school's high-strung atmosphere, as well as the joys and challenges of dance. She is not so sure-handed with characters, though, as aside from Cerinthe and Elliana no one here steps beyond wafer-thin conventional supporting roles, and as Cerinthe chews over one inner conflict or another the story's pace sometimes slows to a crawl. Still, melodramatic incidents are not confined to the stage, Cerinthe's final realization that dance is not her deepest vocation is not easily achieved, and Elliana, driven, physically abused, mentally unbalanced though she may be, is allowed the potential to change, perhaps in a sequel. The intensity may flag here and there, but when it peaks, readers will be drawn in. Elegant cover illustration, too. (Fiction. 11-15)

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Product Details

St. Martins Press-3pl
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.61(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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