The Girl Who Wanted to Dance

The Girl Who Wanted to Dance

by Amy Ehrlich, Rebecca Walsh
     
 
The call to self expression haunts a delicate, poignant tale about family and art, love and longing — and the ineffable tie between parent and child.

Clara lives with her father and grandmother in a little village. More than anything, Clara loves to dance, but her father has had too much sadness in his life to abide dancing. When Clara sees a troupe of

Overview

The call to self expression haunts a delicate, poignant tale about family and art, love and longing — and the ineffable tie between parent and child.

Clara lives with her father and grandmother in a little village. More than anything, Clara loves to dance, but her father has had too much sadness in his life to abide dancing. When Clara sees a troupe of dancers performing in the village one June day, she is enchanted enough to follow their wagons deep into the forest — and what she finds there changes her life forever. This bewitching fairy tale by master storyteller Amy Ehrlich, tenderly illustrated by Rebecca Walsh, honors the call to the artistic life and acknowledges with compassion the pain of those left behind.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Both a haunting fairy tale and a parable for families separated by divorce or death, this lyrically rendered story also presents art as a vehicle for transcending pain. In a long-ago village, Clara lives with her silent father and loving grandmother, who tells her about her absent mother, a lover of music and dance. When musicians come to the village, Clara cannot resist their lure and slips away to the forest to dance with them at night; she comes close to joining them, but her father stops her-by coming out to the forest, recognizing his wife among the dancers, joining her briefly and forgiving her for leaving: "I understand you can't come back." Ehrlich (Baby Dragon) knows precisely how to turn description into the foundation of fairy tale (as Clara wades across a river, "the edge of her nightgown grew dark with water"), and her bittersweet ending barricades the story against didacticism. Working in a representational style, Walsh (How the Tiny People Grew Tall) adds lush paintings of an idealized old world, and her nighttime scenes glow. Ages 6-10. (Feb.)

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Children's Literature - Carly Reagan
Clara is a little girl who loves nothing more than the feeling she gets when dancing freely to music. Though her grandmother was encouraging and understanding of Clara's natural desire to dance, she is soon gone and Clara's father, a depressed sort of man, does not allow music or dancing in the house. When a group of traveling musicians and dancers comes to town, Clara is drawn to them and learns more than she ever thought she would about why dancing comes so naturally to her and the compromise that one must make in order to follow one's dreams. The classic folk tale writing style is accompanied by beautiful illustrations that feature rich, deep colors that capture the emotions of the story. Though the resolution may be unsatisfying for some who want to drop everything to follow their dreams, this story does well to help suppress the myth that living happily ever after is a simple choice. A story about dreams, relationships, and an insuppressible love for dancing that would be perfect for the artistic child who understands what it is like to need a creative outlet to truly be happy. Reviewer: Carly Reagan
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3

Raised by her somber father, Clara is enchanted by her grandmother's joyful stories about her mother's dancing. After Granny's death, her father becomes even more withdrawn, keeping the curtains closed and discouraging music. One summer a troupe of musicians and dancers arrives in the village. The eight-year-old sneaks out to see their performance and later follows their wagon tracks to their next destination. In the forest, a kindhearted dancer helps Clara to discover her own dancing talent before sending her back home. Infatuated with the life of a traveling dancer, however, she decides to leave her silent home for good. Her father pursues her, and his dramatic arrival ends with the revelation that the woman who befriended Clara is her mother. The child returns home to live with her father-who has been miraculously relieved of his sadness-and Clara looks forward to joining her mother when she is older. Ehrlich's tale may charm early elementary girls if they are patient enough to listen to the entire story, but adults will be left shaking their heads at the coincidences and unrealistic developments. Of greater concern is the possibility that children who have lost a parent may receive false hope of a reunion. Walsh's gentle period paintings set a cozy and inviting tone, but libraries should consider this an additional purchase.-Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI

Kirkus Reviews
Clara is a little girl who loves to dance. Every time she hears her granny's lilting melodies or the sweet sounds of the larks, her feet long to move. But her father is serious and solemn. He does not allow music or dance in the house. So, like the caged bird hanging in the corner of her room, Clara is trapped, closed off from what she loves most. But one morning a troupe of traveling musicians and dancers come to town. Real, live dancers! Clara has never seen anything like them before. Mesmerized by their graceful leaps and swirling arms, she follows the troupe late at night-daring to dream that she too could some day live a life of dance. The deep shadows of the forest match the sorrow etched on Clara's father's face, but a golden glow from Walsh's brush never fails to break through the darkness. This tender fairy tale of love, family and longing-with a cadence as smooth as the floating waltzes found within its pages-is achingly exquisite. (Picture book. 7-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763613457
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
02/10/2009
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
9.90(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Amy Ehrlich is an accomplished author and editor of many books for children and young adults, including BABY DRAGON, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand, and the anthologies WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE, VOLUME ONE and VOLUME TWO. She lives in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

Rebecca Walsh has illustrated several books, including HOW THE TINY PEOPLE GREW TALL by Nancy Wood and THE WELL AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Robert D. San Souci. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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