James the Dancing Dog

Overview

James the beagle was a real dog. His master and mistress worked with the National Ballet of Canada, and between 1961 and 1972 he went with them to the studio, the rehearsal hall, and the theater where the dancers performed. Perhaps this is what James dreamed about when he lay quietly on the floor, his eyes fastened on the twirling dancers.

From puppyhood James wanted to dance. Now, he certainly helped the dancers. He practiced their lifts with them. He helped them keep their ...

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Overview

James the beagle was a real dog. His master and mistress worked with the National Ballet of Canada, and between 1961 and 1972 he went with them to the studio, the rehearsal hall, and the theater where the dancers performed. Perhaps this is what James dreamed about when he lay quietly on the floor, his eyes fastened on the twirling dancers.

From puppyhood James wanted to dance. Now, he certainly helped the dancers. He practiced their lifts with them. He helped them keep their figures trim by sharing their lunches. He allowed himself to be patted as a good luck talisman before the dancers went on stage. But this was not enough for James. In his heart he longed to be a dancer himself, to soar across the stage, the spotlight on him.

One day the notice is posted that the company is to perform Giselle. The ballet includes a meaty role for a hunting dog, and James is sure that his moment has come. But the role goes instead to a long-legged wolfhound. James is left out in the cold. That is, until the wolfhound gets stage fright.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Basing her hero on a real dog who was the onetime mascot of the National Ballet of Canada, Maybarduk (The Dancer Who Flew), herself a former ballerina, choreographs the story of a beagle balletomane who gets his moment in the spotlight. James, whose owners teach in a ballet company, is an indispensable member of the corps. "During rehearsal he bravely helped the male dancers perfect their lifts," writes Maybarduk, as Johnson's (My Sister Gracie) watercolor-and-ink spot illustration shows the ecstatic, sausage-shaped James being hoisted in the air. "It was a busy life, but James was the dog for the job." When a sleek but untalented wolfhound is cast as the hunting dog in Giselle, James is heartbroken ("He did nothing with his role," grouses the beagle of his rival). But he's also waiting in the wings when the wolfhound, struck with stage fright, bolts offstage, and the beagle hero steals the show with "a soaring grand jete." Maybarduk and Johnson make ideal partners; the gently wry text performs a seamless pas de deux with the illustrator's fluid lines, elegant editorial styling and witty repertoire of expressions (both dog and human). It's a book certain to win hearts of young ballet fans, and anyone else who likes to root for the underdog. Ages 3-5. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Quite entertainingly written, this book opens with a list of members of the National Ballet of Canada from a few years ago, including, but not limited to 55 dancers, 3 pianists and 1 extraordinary dog. James is this beagle's name and he is involved with the ballet because his people are both dancers. The entire company loves him and consider a pat on his furry head to be their good luck charm before heading on stage. His big chance to actually perform comes in a call for a hunting dog in "Giselle". Sadly, an Irish wolfhound fills the part. Poor James goes into hiding, he is so dejected. But, on opening night the wolfhound freezes and James seizes the opportunity to dance, giving the performance of his lifetime. The author danced with the National Ballet of Canada for fifteen years and was featured in leading roles on television, stage and film. The illustrations provide an insider's view of the ballet and are charming as well as beautiful; the dancers with their long legs and arms, the expansive dance studio, the detailed back stage scenes. Highly recommended. 2004, Tundra Books, Ages 5 to 8.
—Cindy L. Carolan
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887766190
  • Publisher: Tundra
  • Publication date: 11/2/2004
  • Pages: 24
  • Sales rank: 918,365
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.26 (w) x 10.25 (h) x 0.31 (d)

Meet the Author

Linda Maybarduk was born in New York City and raised in Orlando, Florida. During her fifteen-year career as a first soloist with the National Ballet of Canada, she danced a wide range of leading roles and was hailed as one of the company’s most versatile dancers and actresses. She has also appeared in guest appearances on stage, television, and film. Her partners have included Mikhail Baryshnikov, Peter Martins, Anthony Dowell, Fernando Bujones, and Rudolf Nureyev. Her first book, The Dancer Who Flew: A Memoir of Rudolf Nureyev – a tribute to her colleague, mentor and friend – garnered several North American award nominations and provided Linda with a new career as a guest lecturer and teacher to major arts and dance organizations, performing arts centers, and universities. While in the National Ballet, Linda toured and shared many lunches with the star of this book, James the Beagle. Today, she shares her life with her husband, three children, and her airedale, Ivy.

Gillian Johnson is a gifted athlete, teacher, storyteller, and artist. Her first children’s book, Saranohair, was awarded Honorable Mention for the Graphics Prize in Bologna in 1992. My Sister Gracie, published in 2000, was awarded the Alcuin Design Award and has earned fans in Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Iceland, and Venezuela. She has collaborated with author Richard Scrimger, providing the illustrations for their books about Baby Bun Bun, which include, most recently, Eugene’s Story. She also illustrated Dennis Lee’s The Cat and the Wizard. Gillian Johnson lives with her husband, writer Nicholas Shakespeare, and their sons in Tasmania and England.

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