Dance, Kayla!

Dance, Kayla!

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by Darwin McBeth Walton
     
 

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When her grandmother dies, Kayla, a young African-American girl, loses the only mother she has ever known and must leave her farm life in South Carolina to go and live with an aunt and uncle in Chicago. Throughout all of the difficult times, however, Kayla clings to her dream of becoming a ballerina. 160 pp. Ages 9-11. Pub: 4/98. See more details below

Overview

When her grandmother dies, Kayla, a young African-American girl, loses the only mother she has ever known and must leave her farm life in South Carolina to go and live with an aunt and uncle in Chicago. Throughout all of the difficult times, however, Kayla clings to her dream of becoming a ballerina. 160 pp. Ages 9-11. Pub: 4/98.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
Although eleven-year-old Kayla's mother died in childbirth and her dancer father rarely visits or even writes, her life with her loving Gran and Granpa in a rural African American community in South Carolina has been almost idyllic. This changes suddenly when Gran dies of a heart attack and Kayla is sent to live in Chicago with her aunt, uncle and three cousins. How the sensitive but strong-minded Kayla gradually adjusts to her new family, school and life in a big city, and how she also manages to work toward her goal of becoming a dancer, makes for a realistic novel that should especially appeal to pre-teen girls.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Kayla, still reeling from Gran's sudden death, is further bewildered and frightened when she is sent to Chicago to live with her aunt and her family. These virtually unknown relatives willingly make a place for her, but it's hard for Kayla to leave Grandpa and the African-American farming community in South Carolina where she grew up. Although Gran and Grandpa are the only parents Kayla has ever really known, she clings to her wish that her long-absent dancer father will return. As she adjusts to her new life, she makes friends, begins sixth grade in a new school, and continues to dream about becoming a ballerina. While the family relationships and personalities are believable, some of the extraneous characters are less than credible: the stereotypical racist store owner, snobbish classmates who demean Kayla's language style, a gang member who steals and then uncharacteristically returns her prized locket. Still, this contemporary novel is well written and well plotted. Kayla is a likable character who elicits empathy from readers; it will matter to them that she discovers the true meaning of family and that her dreams of ballet come to fruition.-Lynda Short, formerly at the Lexington School, KY
Kirkus Reviews
When her beloved grandmother dies unexpectedly, Kayla is forced to move from a close-knit South Carolina farming community to inner-city Chicago; there she struggles to adjust to living with relatives and making new friends. Walton's attempt to incorporate a range of topics within the framework of a short novel collapses under its own weight: An uncommunicative father, an extended family, the death of a grandparent, adjustment to a new family, and incidents of random violence and racism (Kayla is African-American) all come into play as Kayla tries to maintain her dream of dancing despite the rapid pace of change in her life. The ending feels contrived and abrupt; the absence of Kayla's father, a significant undercurrent in her emotional life, is never satisfactorily explored. Kayla is an appealing protagonist and readers with a special interest in dance will identify with her desire to achieve her dream, but others will find little to hold their interest. (Fiction. 10-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807514535
Publisher:
Whitman, Albert & Company
Publication date:
04/28/1998
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
5.83(w) x 8.33(h) x 0.71(d)
Age Range:
9 - 11 Years

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