Dancing in the Wings

Dancing in the Wings

4.9 10
by Debbie Allen, Kadir Nelson
     
 

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Sassy worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream of becoming a star ballerina. So for now she's just dancing in the wings, watching from behind the curtain, and hoping that one day it will be her turn to shimmer in the spotlight. When the director of an important dance festival comes to audition her class,… See more details below

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Overview

Sassy worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream of becoming a star ballerina. So for now she's just dancing in the wings, watching from behind the curtain, and hoping that one day it will be her turn to shimmer in the spotlight. When the director of an important dance festival comes to audition her class, Sassy's first attempts to get his attention are, well, a little wobbly. But Sassy just knows, somehow, that this is her time to step out from those wings, and make her mark on the world.

Actress/choreographer Debbie Allen and Kadir Nelson collaborated on Brothers of the Knight, about which School Library Journal raved, "the strutting high-stepping brothers are full of individuality, attitude, and movement."

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)

From the Publisher
Nelson's artwork conveys Sassy's spirit and captures well the expressions of her smug, mocking classmates. A great read-aloud. (School Library Journal)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803725010
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
09/28/2000
Series:
Quantum Science Fiction Series
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
406,728
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 11.25(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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From the Publisher
Nelson's artwork conveys Sassy's spirit and captures well the expressions of her smug, mocking classmates. A great read-aloud. (School Library Journal)

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