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Starring Prima!: The Mouse of the Ballet Jolie

Starring Prima!: The Mouse of the Ballet Jolie

by Jacquelyn Mitchard, Mitchard Jacquelyn (Read by)

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From the day she was born in the piano backstage at the Ballet Jolie, it was obvious that Prima was destined for greatness.

Her family fully expected her to become the lead dancer with the American Ballet Rodente. Such an honor should be enough for any mouselet, but Prima had even bigger plans. She wouldn't be satisfied until she could share her talent with all


From the day she was born in the piano backstage at the Ballet Jolie, it was obvious that Prima was destined for greatness.

Her family fully expected her to become the lead dancer with the American Ballet Rodente. Such an honor should be enough for any mouselet, but Prima had even bigger plans. She wouldn't be satisfied until she could share her talent with all creatures -- even humans. But as any mouse with half a brain knows, the last thing you want to do around a human is draw attention to yourself. Did that stop Prima? not on your tutu!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With a bright and generally cheery reading sparked with an occasional hint of sarcasm, bestselling author Mitchard (writing her first children's novel) invites listeners backstage to meet the mice of the Ballet Jolie, which performs in special theater nooks and crannies in New York City. Descended from a great French mouse ballerina, young Prima appears destined to be a star of the dance. Prima's dark coloring, exceptionally long legs and pink paws "as delicate as the sugar roses on a birthday cake" presumably mark her for greatness. But Prima has the self-confidence and ambition to surpass her natural gifts-she wants to do the unthinkable: perform for human people. When she's punished for sneaking onstage during a performance for humans, Prima's career changes course. She meets up with a young human named Kristen and finds her way to a New York apartment and eventually to Paris, where she also finds romance. Amusing mouse and place names-e.g., the Mezzanina and Snacketta families, Whiskerella-help create a parallel dance world that aspiring ballerinas can appreciate (though some older listeners may find it cloying). Ages 8-10. (June). Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
While Jacquelyn Mitchard has proven herself to be a popular writer of novels for grown-ups, younger readers may not have the same capacity for narrative and backstory. Both of these work together to slow the pace of this book, and there's just not enough action to inspire in the reader that all-important question: "What happens next?" Prima is a mouse that wants to dance. Conveniently, she is the granddaughter of the star ballerina Madame Mousielle and she lives in the Ballet Jolie, so she dances. Midway through the novel the theme shifts, from dancing to friendship. Prima befriends the daughter of the prima ballerina at Ballet Jolie, Kristen Brown, and moves into Kristen's high rise apartment. After living with Kristen for some time and becoming friends with her new kitten, Meowsky, the whole group takes off for Paris. There, Prima meets Abelard Pianoforte, principal male dancer of the Ballet Francais Minuscule. Prima and Abelard fall in love, and Prima decides to stay in France. One year later, Kristen returns to France and meets the daughter of Prima. Our main character has died, usually not a crowd pleaser in children's fiction, but a mouse life is a short one, the reader learns. Quickly recovering, Kristen takes Prima's daughter back home with her. In the last two pages the reader is taken through Kristen's life from child to grandma, the story is over, but no problems are resolved because this lucky cast of characters never had any. 2004, HarperCollins Children's Books, Ages 8 to 12.
—Mary Loftus
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-A popular adult author has joined the ever-growing number of writers trying to cross over into the children's market. Disappointingly, this effort is not successful. Prima is determined to become the lead dancer in the mouse ballet and skyrocket to stardom instead of taking her time and learning the ropes. Her first sentence uttered is "I am born to dance." She even calls herself Antoinette Brown, after the great prima ballerina. Along the way she is befriended by the dancer's daughter, a stereotypical child of a celebrity who is showered with material gifts but craves her mother's attention. Instead she finds love and acceptance with Prima. Eventually, they travel to Paris where Prima meets and marries the mouse of her dreams. The book is peppered with cutesy references to famous mice including James Tailer, Squeequido Domingo, and Fred Mousetaire. The book has long, run-on sentences, and all of the threads are neatly tied up in a pat ending. Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux (Candlewick, 2003) and Dick King-Smith's The Three Terrible Trins (Knopf, 1997) are much better choices.-Linda Zeilstra Sawyer, Skokie Public Library, IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Born in a grand piano, at the Ballet Jolie in New York City, Prima's first words are, "I'm born to dance," and indeed, she becomes a ballet star. She's a mischievous and daring mouse and it gets her into trouble on the one hand and enables her to make friends with Kristen, a ten-year-old human, on the other. Their adventures together include accompanying Kristen's mother, a star ballerina, to Paris, where Prima falls in love with the star ballet dancer, Abelard. She marries and remains at the ballet, where her grandmother had taught years ago. When her friend returns to Paris, she meets Prima's daughter, who has stayed to welcome her and tell her of Prima's passing. Various characters (Kristen's new kitten, Prima's loving and talented family) help make this a rollicking adventure, but numerous asides alluding to human and mouse foibles and an elaborate history of the mouse family are often distracting as they interrupt the storyline and break up the narrative flow. Black-and-white cartoon drawings are as whimsical as the adventures. A reasonably enjoyable read-aloud, especially to those who were Angelina Ballerina devotees when they were younger. (Fiction. 6-9)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged, 2 cassettes, 3 hours
Product dimensions:
4.32(w) x 7.18(h) x 0.78(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

New York Times bestseller Jacquelyn Mitchard's novels include The Deep End of the Ocean, Twelve Times Blessed, and The Breakdown Lane. She is also the author of The Rest of Us: Dispatches from the Mother Ship, a collection of her newspaper columns. She lives with her husband and six children in Madison, Wisconsin.

Brief Biography

Madison, Wisconsin
Place of Birth:
Chicago, Illinois
B.A. in English, Rockford College, 1973

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