Becoming a Ballerina: A Nutcracker Story [NOOK Book]


The perfect holiday gift for every young ballet fan

Go backstage at the ballet with real-life thirteen-year-old dancer Fiona. Dozens of gorgeous, full-color photographs welcome readers into Fiona's world, as she goes from auditions, to rehearsals, to opening night playing Clara, the lead child's role in Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker. Experience the nerves, the hard work, and ultimately the thrill of ...
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The perfect holiday gift for every young ballet fan

Go backstage at the ballet with real-life thirteen-year-old dancer Fiona. Dozens of gorgeous, full-color photographs welcome readers into Fiona's world, as she goes from auditions, to rehearsals, to opening night playing Clara, the lead child's role in Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker. Experience the nerves, the hard work, and ultimately the thrill of performing on the big stage with a professional company. This is a beautiful holiday gift that young dancers will cherish all year round.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Friedman and Dowdle, who previously collaborated on Break a Leg! The Kids’ Guide to Acting and Stagecraft, follow 13-year-old Fiona, a real-life fledging ballerina, on her journey from hopeful auditionee to starring performer as Clara in the Boston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. Writing in Fiona’s voice, Friedman doesn’t always strike the most authentic tone—she too often uses dialogue to do the expository heavy lifting—but like Mother Ginger, she has an endless store of delicious details and insights. Fiona talks about her aches and pains (“Sometimes hurt so much that I want to cry”), her sacrifices (“I miss going to birthday parties and the movies, being in school talent shows, sleepovers—normal stuff”), the fierce competition, and even what Clara and the Prince talk about while they’re floating over the stage in a balloon headed for the Kingdom of Sweets. Dowdle’s photographs, the result of extraordinary access to the production, immerse readers in the hard work of rehearsals and backstage life. But when it comes to the performance itself, there’s perhaps too much documentation of famed Nutcracker moments and not enough bravura shots of Fiona. Ages 7–9. (Oct.)
"A fascinating book for young ballet students and a fresh introduction to that perennial favorite, The Nutcracker."
The Horn Book
"Young dancers will be entranced by the fascinating details of rehearsals, costuming, and staging, while Nutcracker fans will treasure this intimate view of a beloved holiday tradition."
The Boston Globe
"Becoming a Ballerina, geared for ages 7 and up, paints a vivid portrait of Wada-Gill's artistic life, the years of balancing intensive dance training with homework demands and social activities."
Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Twelve-year-old Fiona has just begun to realize her dream of dancing Clara in Boston Ballet's Nutcracker. Writing in Fiona's voice, Friedman takes ballet-lovers through scary auditions, strenuous rehearsals, costume fittings, and then onstage to opening night when Fiona knows she will become a professional dancer. Boston's version of Nutcracker uses many children each year, chosen from the school to play mice, sheep, toy soldiers, guests at the Christmas party, and the highly coveted roles of Clara and her little brother Fritz. With forty performances during the Christmas season, four Claras and an understudy are announced; Fiona will dance fourteen times. Dowdle's outstanding color photos help neophytes understand Fiona's excitement as she prepares for her debut, taking readers into classrooms and studios, letting them meet Fiona's friends Isabelle, Alexandra, Chelsea, and Farin (all sharing the part of Clara) and observe the adult professionals Fiona will dance with—mysterious Drosselmeier, for example, is danced by Sabi Varga, who spins her around in the party scene and acts like a big brother to Fiona. Since her sisters Bronwyn and Delia are also in the cast, Nutcracker takes over life at home, too, as Fiona strives to become Clara. Those familiar with the traditional Nutcracker will best understand what is going on, but for all readers, Fiona's hard work and growth as a dancer will be apparent, exemplified beautifully by a striking photo of her in a white sweatshirt, completely absorbed in watching other dancers rehearse and a final shot of Fiona taking a bow, wearing Clara's frilly nightgown and the crown of a ballerina. Note: dance-lovers will be interested to hear that Boston Ballet is preparing an entirely restaged version of Nutcracker for 2012—13 with Robert Perdziola's new costumes and sets, which can be viewed on Boston's fabulous website. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 3–7—Ballet lovers and wannabe performers will enjoy this backstage look at a young dancer's journey from classes to auditions to rehearsals for her starring role as Clara in The Nutcracker. The book begins with Fiona's opening-night jitters as she prepares to go onstage. Through an effective use of flashback, her story of hard work and preparation is unspooled. Excellent-quality full-color photos on almost every page provide glimpses into her warm and supportive family and the members of the Boston Ballet Company as she rehearses and works through her fears and nerves. Although aspects of the ballet are explained in the narrative, e.g., the importance of mime gestures in the wordless world of ballet, there are no definitions of such terms as arabesque, chassé, épaulement effacé, etc., in order to broaden the appeal to curious newcomers. The photographs amplify the text, but captions lack some needed details, e.g., is that Fiona's little sister as one of the lambs? Overall, a lively look at a production for aspiring dancers.—Frances E. Millhouser, formerly at Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA
Kirkus Reviews
A young student in the Boston Ballet School lands the plum role of Clara in The Nutcracker through her hard work, determination and talent. Fiona's story, told in the first person, unfolds in the months before Boston Ballet's Nutcracker season, a Christmas holiday fixture. Daily hours of practice and weeks of rehearsal result in a splendid opening-night performance. Fiona lives in Boston with her mother and two sisters, one older and one younger, who also take classes and perform in The Nutcracker. Fortunately, their mother willingly and lovingly supports them. Fiona's activities with friends at school are of necessity curtailed, but she relishes the camaraderie with the other ballet students and with members of the company. The narration provides an illuminating and detailed picture of the hard work and single-minded dedication that is required. The many full-color photographs help readers see both the beauty of the performance and the strength of mind and body required for ballet. There are some humorous moments, along with a running description of Fiona's difficulties in hitting the Mouse King with her ballet slipper. The Boston Ballet production is beautifully costumed, providing a feast for the eye for all readers. A glossary of ballet terms would have been helpful. Ballet lovers will relish the behind-the-scenes look at this land of enchantment. (Nonfiction. 9-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101652541
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/11/2012
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: NOOK Kids
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 7 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 900L (what's this?)
  • File size: 39 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Lise Friedman is the author, in collaboration with photographer Mary Dowdle, of the Junior Library Guild selection Becoming a Ballerina: A Nutcracker Story. She is a former dancer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and the coauthor of Letters to Juliet, which inspired the 2010 film of the same title. She is also the author of a number of other dance books for young readers. She is an adjunct professor at New York University's Gallatin School and was editor of the award winning quarterly Dance Ink and the dance writer for Microsoft's New York Sidewalk, a website focused on arts and culture. Lise lives in New York City.

Mary Dowdle grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. She learned photography from her mother, who chronicled her father's professional baseball career. Mary studied English literature and photography at Indiana University. In 1995 she moved to NYC and worked with of some of the top advertising/fashion photographers at Stockland Martel. She has spent the last twelve years as a freelance photographer specializing in photographing children, and she collaborated with author Lise Friedman on Break a Leg! The Kids' Guide to Acting and Stagecraft (a Children's Book-of-the-Month Club selection), as well as the book Becoming a Ballerina. Mary lives in Boston with her husband and three children.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 23, 2012

    Amazing Pictures, Great Text and Detailed Story! Highly Recommended - you must check it out!

    The author chose a beautiful girl to interview. The pictures that in the book are mesmerizing. All the auditions, costumes and everything else is described in great detail. This is such a wonderful book. My whole family spent hours reading this and looking at the pictures. This is the perfect book for little ballerinas. This is, truly, the greatest book of its kind and I would recommend it to anybody! Such a great addition to the Barnes and Noble library!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

    Inspirational but realistic; a truly beautiful book

    This is a perfect book for anyone interested in understanding the process of becoming a ballerina. The photography is absolutely beautiful and the story of Fiona's struggles and accomplishments is a more realistic presentation than in most books. Becoming a ballerina takes a lot of work and sacrifice. This book illustrates the whole endeavor from Fiona's perspective, but doesn't scrimp on photographs of the Nutcracker production. I'd recommend the book for any child interested in the performing arts. As a parent, I've thoroughly enjoyed sharing it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2013


    I am a ballernia and it was great to see what ir is like at a different dance sudtio

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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