Dancing in the Wings

( 10 )

Overview

Sassy is a long-legged girl who always has something to say. She wants to be a ballerina more than anything, but she worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream. When a famous director comes to visit her class, Sassy does her best to get his attention with her high jumps and bright leotard. Her first attempts are definitely not appreciated, but with Sassy's persistence, she just might be able to win him over. Dancing in the Wings is loosely based on ...

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Overview

Sassy is a long-legged girl who always has something to say. She wants to be a ballerina more than anything, but she worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream. When a famous director comes to visit her class, Sassy does her best to get his attention with her high jumps and bright leotard. Her first attempts are definitely not appreciated, but with Sassy's persistence, she just might be able to win him over. Dancing in the Wings is loosely based on actress/choreographer Debbie Allen's own experiences as a young dancer.

Sassy tries out for a summer dance festival in Washington, D.C., despite the other girls' taunts that she is much too tall.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
PW called this tale of a hopeful young ballet dancer who complains of her too-big feet and too-long legs "inspirational," adding that "Nelson depicts the heroine with a grace that belies her self-image." Ages 4-8. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
In this story with similarities to Mary Hoffman's Amazing Grace, Sassy dreams of becoming a great dancer. She is, however, afraid that she will never succeed because she is so tall and her feet are so large. Her name, Sassy, fits perfectly, her mother says, but Sassy doesn't mind. She practices her dancing with fervor and takes (and gives) teasing from her brother and his friends. At last her big chance comes¾she auditions for a spot in a summer training school and a performance in Washington, D.C. Here she finally finds a dance partner who is taller. Allen's story and Nelson's expressive, realistic oil paintings bring the saucy Sassy to life and present her as an inspiration for children to persevere to achieve success. Nelson's first painting of Sassy as a young girl is priceless. The reader cannot help but like her and root for her as she pursues her dream. This book, together with Amazing Grace, will give children the encouragement to develop self-confidence and never give up on a dream. Every collection of children's literature should have this wonderful, multicultural book. 2000, Dial Books for Young Readers, $16.99. Ages 7 to 9. Reviewer: J. B. Petty
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-This charming picture book focuses on the world of ballet classes, and children's cruelty toward those who are different. Sassy loves to dance but she is tall, gangly, and has really big feet. Her desire to perform is her strongest asset. When she soars through the air in a giant leap, she feels like she can do anything. Sassy does indeed live up to her name. This African-American child is fresh, she is innovative-she wears a bright yellow leotard to stand out in the crowd-and she is determined. The story is sure to build self-esteem in those readers who can empathize with Sassy and they'll cheer when she takes center stage in a dance festival in the nation's capital. Nelson's artwork conveys Sassy's spirit and captures well the expressions of her smug, mocking classmates. A great read-aloud.-Kay Bowes, Concord Pike Library, Wilmington, DE Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Dancer-choreographer Allen (of Fame fame) joins forces again with Nelson (Big Jabe, p. 565) in their second dance-themed picture book, following Brothers of the Knight (1999). Sassy is a tall African-American girl of middle-school age, a serious ballet student with extra-long legs, extra-big feet, and an extra-sassy manner of speaking that earned her the unusual nickname. She bickers with her brother, trading mean-spirited insults about his big head and her big feet, and snaps out sassy retorts to snide comments from her teacher and the more petite dancers in her ballet classes. Because of her height, Sassy is not allowed to participate in her school's dance recitals—a most unlikely situation at any ballet school in the US. Despite this lack of performing experience (and despite wearing a non-regulation, sunshine-yellow leotard to the audition with a strict Russian ballet master), Sassy wins a competition to attend a summer dance program in Washington, D.C. She finally finds her way into the spotlight there, dancing with a boy who is taller than even she is. Some of Nelson's illustrations would have benefited from tighter art direction: the height of the Russian ballet master seems variable from page to page and the dance shoes and positions of the feet are sometimes not quite correct. Despite these minor flaws, Sassy is an appealing girl with attitude who learns to accept her less-than-perfect physical features and make the best of her talents. Little girls who long for pretty tutus and pointe shoes of their own will like this sassy lassie. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142501412
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 12/1/2003
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 74,242
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 24, 2012

    beautiful

    I love this book for Myself and my 3 year old... beautiful illustrations,, great job debbie and kadir!!! just the book i was looking for thank you

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  • Posted February 5, 2012

    Great!

    The girls loved it!

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  • Posted July 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I love this book

    I read this book when I was younger and found it again today and reread it. :) It has a really great message !!! I would recommend it to anyone (:

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2007

    Lyric's Loves it!

    My almost 4-year-old loves this book! We checked it out from the Library and she wants to read it EVERYDAY, so I am buying it for her. She literally knows the book by heart! She loves it!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2006

    A great book for everybody !

    When somebody is picking on you, you shouldn't let that bother you. This book taught me to not let other people, ruin my dream to be a horsewoman. So, I recommend this book to everybody who is very bothered with people that pick on them and try to stop their dream.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2005

    A powerful message with sass

    My daughter loves this book so much that I almost don't like it anymore.(haha) She has been reading this book almost every day for 15 months. The story is entertaining and most girls can identify with the lead character. I love the message it sends to girls who feel as though they do not fit in. It also sends a message to girls who think they are 'better' than others.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2004

    It's a wonderful story

    My almost 4 year old daughter got this book as a present and it has been a staple at bedtime, as well as through the day, for almost a year! She loves the illustrations and often refers to 'Sassy' (the main character). I refer to Sassy too, when I want her to remember to be proud or brave- like the heroin of this story. It's a great story about a great girl.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2004

    Worth reading!!

    This book is excellent for children of all ages. My students loved this book and thought it had a great message. If you like books with a wonderful message and good characters. This book is for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2002

    A book every young dreamer should read.

    This outstanding book is great for all those who feel odd and awkward about there appearance. It's a great motivator. The illistration is the best I've seen in a long time. I recommend this book to both boys and girls because both can relate.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2000

    Bravo to Debbie Allen

    This book was extremely heart warming. I could relate to Sassy's coming of age story and wanted to share the story with my niece, who is a teen. The support Sassy receives from her family is endearing. This story is a great learning and support tool for young women who are facing self esteem challenges. The illustrations bring the story to life through their emotion. The story is very realistic with a touch of magic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews

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