Magical horses are surely talented, right? Then putting on a talent show should be fun and easy. Especially for Wind Dancers. But what happens when all but one of them can't dance?
Readers can really let their imaginations fly with this magical new series based on Breyer's beautifully-colored model horses, The Wind Dancers, four tiny horses with childlike personalities girls will readily identify with.
Sure to begin an enduring love of horses.
About the Author
Sibley Miller, author of the Wind Dancers series, is the pseudonym for an author of novels for teens.
Illustrated by Tara Larsen Chang and Jo Gershman. Tara Larsen Chang is the illustrator of The Fairy Chronicles. Jo Gershman is the illustrator of The Nutcracker Ballet and The Night Before Christmas.
Read an Excerpt
Wind Dancers: The Horse Must Go On!
A Sumatra Story
By Sibley Miller, Tara Larsen Chang, Jo Gershman
Feiwel and FriendsCopyright © 2008 Reeves International, Inc.
All rights reserved.
All That Jazz
"And a-ONE, a-TWO, a-ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR!" Sumatra tapped out a dancing beat, kicking her front legs and shouting at the top of her lungs.
Kona, Sirocco, and Brisa, who were flying alongside their fellow filly, stopped to hover in the air and stare.
Not only was Sumatra marking her moves, she was dancing. In mid-air! As she spun around and around, the shimmery ribbons in her halo spun, too.
"Um, Sumatra?" Kona asked gently. "What are you doing?"
"Huh?" Sumatra asked absent-mindedly. Then she kicked her hind legs up, did another spin, and murmured, "And two, two, three, four."
"Hello!" Sirocco said. He flew over to Sumatra and grabbed the end of her pretty pale-green tail with his teeth, stopping her in mid-spin. "We're supposed to be looking for a new adventure this morning. Not spinning around like a dizzy bird!"
Sumatra blinked at her friends.
"Oh, right," she said. "Sorry, guys. I guess I just got caught up in it."
"In what?" Brisa asked, looking confused.
Sumatra's eyes gleamed as she pointed toward the ground with her nose.
She was gazing down at the sprawling lawn outside the school in the little town not far from the dandelion meadow where the Wind Dancers lived. Children were playing kickball, swinging from a jungle gym, and jumping around a hopscotch court. But it was a group at the edge of the lawn that had caught Sumatra's eye.
Six girls were swishing their hips from side to side. Their ponytails swung from side to side, too!
"They look like horses with those tails!" Brisa said admiringly.
"They really do," Sumatra replied with a giggle. Then she noticed one ponytail in particular — a pretty, wavy blond one. With a start, she realized that it belonged to —
"Leanna!" Sumatra cried. "Look, you guys! That's our girl! And she's the best dancer."
Kona, Brisa, and Sirocco gasped as they recognized their friend.
"Smile," Leanna was saying to the other girls. "And don't forget your jazz hands!"
The girls grinned widely, bumped each other's hips, and threw out their hands, fanning their fingers.
"See!" Sumatra said to her friends. "That's what got me going."
She did another light spin and then added dramatically, "Their dancing spoke to me. I was powerless to stop myself."
Sirocco rolled his eyes.
"Well, you may be powerless, but I'm not," he said to Sumatra. "Next time you feel the need to go flailing around in the sky like a wet butterfly, just let me know. I'll help you stop yourself."
"Hey," she complained. "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all!"
"All right, then," Sirocco replied with a mischievous grin. "It would sure be nice to get going soon and go find our next adventure!"
"But, Sirocco," Brisa said, looking down at the dancing girls, "Leanna and her friends are pretty entertaining."
When the girls finished, red cheeked and breathless, the flying horses (well, all of them except Sirocco) whinnied their approval.
"That was amazing!" Sumatra breathed.
Leanna seemed to think so, too.
"Well," she said to her group with a firm nod, "it looks like we all know our parts for the school talent show. Should we practice again tomorrow?"
The girls responded with a chorus of mock groans.
"Hey," Leanna scolded them (with a smile). "You want to be fabulous in the show, don't you?"
"Of course we do, Leanna!" said one of the girls. "We'll be there."
"With blisters on," joked another girl.
"Blisters?" Brisa chirped from up above the girls. "Maybe they should go to the blacksmith and get some new shoes. That's what the big horses in the paddock do when their feet hurt."
"Um, I think that's just a horse thing," Kona corrected her. And then —
The bell rang.
The Wind Dancers watched wistfully as Leanna and her friends made their way into school.
"Oh," Brisa said with a sigh, "I wish they could have seen us cheering for them!"
"Uh-huh," Sumatra said, her brown eyes shining. "I'm most impressed with Leanna. She was the director of the whole number."
"You're right," Kona agreed proudly. "She's a born leader."
Thoughtfully, the Wind Dancers rose higher in the air and began to fly toward their tree house.
"So!" Sirocco said. "What should we do next? A picnic? Some swimming in the creek?"
"How about a nap?" Brisa suggested with a big yawn.
"What?" Sumatra said. She was gazing at Brisa, her mouth hanging open. "How can you think about napping? How can you think about anything but that amazing dance number? The hip waggling. The jazz hands! It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen!"
Sirocco looked blankly at Sumatra for a moment — before turning to Brisa.
"You know, I am kind of sleepy, too," he said. "Maybe we should take naps."
Sumatra stomped her hoof (or would have, if she'd been standing on the ground).
"I'm not tired at all," she protested.
Now, it was Kona who yawned.
"We did get up super-early this morning," she said, nodding understandingly at Brisa and Sirocco.
Sumatra felt desperate.
"I've got an idea," she blurted. "An idea for an adventure like no other!"
This got her friends' attention.
"What is it?" Brisa asked breathlessly.
"Yes," Kona asked with wide eyes. "Where do you want to go?"
"The question," Sumatra said slyly, "is not where. It's what! And what I think we should do is put on our own talent show, for all our animal friends around the dandelion meadow, just like Leanna's doing!"
"What do you mean?!" Sirocco balked. He stopped in midair and gaped at Sumatra.
"You don't want us to dance, do you?" Kona added, looking uncomfortable.
Brisa looked down at her legs. "Is it even possible to do jazz hooves?"
"Listen," Sumatra said. She hoped she sounded as confident as Leanna had been with her friends. "All we need to put on a show is a director like Leanna. And I can do that job."
"That's great, Sumatra," Kona said gently. "But doesn't a talent show require, you know, talent?"
"Yeah," Brisa said uneasily. She patted her glossy blond mane. "If this was a beauty pageant, I'd have no worries. But I don't know what my talents are."
"Neither do I," Sumatra said. "But I know how to find out! Don't worry, guys. You go take your naps and leave everything to me!"CHAPTER 2
A few hours later, after Kona, Brisa, and Sirocco woke from their naps, they stumbled out of their sleeping stalls. They stretched and yawned their way into the kitchen.
"I don't know about you two," Kona said, running a hoof through her tousled mane, "but that was the best nap I ever had."
"I had the loveliest dream," Brisa replied, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. "We found a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It was so pretty."
"Gold, huh?" Sirocco said, smacking his lips. "That makes me think of honey! I think a little post-nap snack is in order!"
But when the horses arrived in the kitchen, Sumatra was standing between them and their feed buckets. Her eyes glinted with excitement and her back hooves tapped impatiently.
"You're finally up!" she said to her friends. "I hope you had a good rest. You're going to need it!"
"For making a honey run?" Sirocco said hopefully.
"For finding out what our talents are!" Sumatra declared. "I told you I'd take care of everything, and I have. You just need to come with me. Um, now!"
"Now?" Brisa squeaked. "There's not even time to fix my hair?"
"Or get a snack?" Sirocco complained. "Where are we going in such a hurry?"
"You'll see," Sumatra said with a gleam in her eyes.
It was afternoon by the time Sumatra led Kona, Sirocco, and Brisa on a secret flight out of the apple tree house and across the dandelion meadow. They flew into the woods until they were in the forest. Finally, Sumatra headed for a dirt clearing in the center of some tall trees.
"Follow me," she said with excitement in her voice. She dove down to the clearing.
"This," Sumatra announced as she landed, "will be our stage!"
Then she pointed with her nose into the dusky air above them. "Up there are our spotlights," she said. "It gets dark really early in the forest."
There were fireflies bobbing in the air. The little bugs lit up together, casting a beam of light onto the Wind Dancers.
"Oh!" Kona neighed. As she landed on the clearing-turned-stage, along with Brisa, she squeezed her eyes shut. "Those are bright!"
"Well, they have to be," Sumatra said. "The spotlights have to light up the stars."
"What do you mean?" Sirocco asked. He'd landed on the stage, as well. He glanced upward. "The stars are way up in the sky. And I can't see them, anyway. There are too many tree branches in the way."
"No, Sirocco!" Sumatra explained with excitement. "We're the stars!"
She bowed proudly to her friends with a wave of her front hoof.
"Or rather," she added, "we're going to be stars, once we've finished our auditions."
"Auditions?" Kona said. She opened her eyes and squinted through the spotlights at Sumatra. "What do you mean?"
"We'll each do a performance," Sumatra said matter-of-factly. "And then the rest of us will judge our talents. When we figure out what we're good at — you know, dancing, or acting, or whatever — I can start planning our talent show."
"What?!" Sirocco balked.
Kona was alarmed, too.
"We have to perform ..." she said, looking a little pale behind her violet coat.
"... right this very minute?" Brisa added, trembling.
"... without any preparation?" Sirocco finished.
"Yeah!" Sumatra said with a gleeful smile. "I promised you an adventure, didn't I? What's more adventurous than a spontaneous performance? C'mon, it'll be fun!"
"Oooh," Sirocco groaned. He clutched at his belly.
"Oh, are you still hungry, Sirocco?" Brisa asked.
"Not anymore," Sirocco said. "I think my butterflies have jumped from my magic halo right into my belly!"
"That's called nerves, Sirocco," Sumatra said with a grin. "But don't worry. Nerves keep you on your toes and can actually make you perform better."
"I should be brilliant, then," Kona said, sticking out her tongue.
Sumatra laughed. Then she added, "The best way to get your hooves wet is to jump right in. Why don't you start, Sirocco?"
"Start what?" Sirocco said, with panic in his voice. "I don't know what to do."
"Explore your talents!" Sumatra suggested dramatically. "Do whatever moves you. Sing. Dance. Do some stand-up!"
"I am standing up," Sirocco responded indignantly. He pointed with his nose at his hooves, which were planted firmly in the dirt of the stage.
"Hee, hee!" Sumatra said. "See? That's funny! Why don't you tell some more jokes?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Sirocco protested. "I didn't tell a joke in the first place."
"Oh, I guess you don't know about standup," Sumatra explained. "You see, it's a kind of comedy."
"Comedy?" Sirocco said, wrinkling his nose at the unfamiliar word. "I thought you said to tell jokes!"
"That's what comedy is, telling jokes — oh, never mind!" Sumatra said. "I'll tell you what," she added bossily, "since I'm the director, I'll decide what you should do. Sirocco — sing!"
Sirocco obeyed by crossing his front hooves and taking a deep breath.
"The sun'll come out," he yowled, "TOMOR-ROOOOW!"
"Eeek!" Sumatra whispered to herself. Sirocco was screeching the high notes and growling the low ones. There was really not a thing nice Sumatra could say about his song. So, of course, she said nothing at all.
Nothing except, "Okay, I think that's enough ... Brisa, you're next! Why don't you enter from stage right?"
"Okay," Brisa said brightly. She rose into the air and flew to the left side of the clearing.
"No, no," Sumatra corrected her. "Stage right means to your right."
"Oh!" Brisa said with a giggle. She turned her back to Sumatra and wiggled her right front hoof. Then she turned back around and said, "Well, here I am! Stage right!"
"No, not that way!" Sumatra protested. Then she shook her head. "Oh, never mind — forget right and left. Just fly downstage so you're closer to the audience."
"Downstage," Brisa said, thinking hard. "Okay. Here goes."
And she flew down, down, down until she'd landed on the ground. The dirty ground.
"Oh, no!" Brisa cried. "I've gotten mud on my lovely hooves! Before I can continue with this audition, I need to get to hair and makeup."
Sumatra tried hard not to roll her eyes. Instead, she called out, "Next!"
But Sumatra was disappointed. So far, both Sirocco and Brisa had not shown a glimmer of talent.
But now it's Kona's turn, Sumatra thought to herself. And Kona's good at everything.
Kona herself didn't look so sure. She stepped forward, looking serious. Her front legs were stiff and her head was thrust out at an awkward angle.
"Hey Diddle, Diddle," she announced. "By Mother Goose."
"Oh, you're reciting a poem," Sumatra said eagerly. "How impressive!"
"'Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle,'" Kona recited, "'the horse jumped over the moon.'"
"The horse?" Sumatra said, cringing. "Um, are you sure that's right?"
"The cow, I mean!" Kona corrected herself. "'The cow jumped over the moon. The little hog laughed ...' Or wait — was it a dog? Or a frog?"
"Why not just try the next line," Sumatra suggested gently to her dizzy friend.
But when she opened her mouth, no sound came out — other than a weak squeak.
Kona had forgotten her lines.
Sumatra bit her lip and looked at Sirocco helplessly.
"I'll say it for you, Sumatra," Sirocco offered. Then he turned to Kona and yelled, "NEXT!"
Sumatra laughed a bit nervously.
"I guess that's me," she said.
While Kona slunk to the sidelines, Sumatra took a deep breath. She stepped onto the stage. She felt poised. Graceful. Talented.
I just hope Kona, Sirocco, and Brisa don't feel bad when they compare their auditions with mine, Sumatra thought to herself.
Then she began to sing.
"The hilllllls are alive, with the sound of muuuuuu-siiiiic ..."
As she sang, she twirled — around and around and around.
Twirling's always a show-stopper, she thought to herself confidently.
Finally, Sumatra finished her act with a knock-knock joke — a real knee-slapper about an orange and a banana.
Then she took a deep bow and waited for the applause.
But, surprisingly, all she heard was silence!
And maybe a groan or two.
"Owwwwww!" Sirocco moaned, shaking his head hard. "My ears hurt!"
Meanwhile, Brisa turned to Kona.
"I don't get that joke," she whispered — loudly. "'Orange you glad I didn't say banana?' What does that mean?"
Sumatra frowned in confusion.
"I don't understand," she said. "You didn't like my number?"
Sirocco only shook his sore ears some more. Meanwhile, Kona gulped and hung her tongue out of her mouth.
"All that twirling made me a little dizzy," she rasped. "I think I might throw up."
Sumatra felt a cold chill come over her.
"You hated it," she said to her friends. "You hated my performance!"
"Well ..." Brisa's eyes darted back and forth, and she looked uncomfortable.
Kona made a woozy sound.
And Sirocco yelled, "What?! I can't hear you over the ringing in my ears."
"I can't believe it," Sumatra wailed. "I've got no talent!"CHAPTER 3
Sadly, Sumatra rose into the air and headed back toward the dandelion meadow. A gloomy Sirocco, Kona, and Brisa followed her. After they'd flown in silence for a while, Sirocco spoke up.
"I'm sorry that you're so very untalented, Sumatra," he declared sweetly. "But don't worry. Your show will go on. After all, my singing was awesome."
"And my Mother Goose recital was very dramatic," Kona noted, "once I got the lines right."
"And I think I've finally got the stage directions straight," Brisa piped up. "Plus, I have a great idea for how to do up my mane for our show!"
The three Wind Dancers looked at Sumatra expectantly.
But Sumatra only cringed.
And avoided all six of her friends' eyes.
Sirocco's face fell.
"Oh, I get it," he said sadly. "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all, right?"
"Right," she said. "I guess we're all kind of untalented."
"Well, I have something nice to say," Brisa responded. "I thought Sumatra's twirling was lovely. She looked like a silver and green top! She didn't make me dizzy at all."
"Thanks, Brisa," Sumatra said. "That makes me feel a little bet —"
Sumatra stopped herself with a gasp.
"Hey, hold on just a minute!" she said. "Twirling!"
"Huh?" her friends asked.
Sumatra did a neat pirouette in the air.
"Twirling!" she repeated. "And leaping and somersaulting and loop-de-looping!"
"Do you think the audition got to her?" Sirocco muttered to Kona and Brisa. "She's talking crazy!"
"I'm talking dancing," Sumatra retorted. "So we can't act. Or sing. Or tell jokes. Or tell stage right from stage left. Who cares?"
"I care," Kona said with a sniff.
"You've forgotten who we are," Sumatra insisted with another pretty pirouette. "We're the Wind Dancers. Forget about all those other talents — we can put on a ballet! A show that's nothing but dance."
Excerpted from Wind Dancers: The Horse Must Go On! by Sibley Miller, Tara Larsen Chang, Jo Gershman. Copyright © 2008 Reeves International, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Meet the Wind Dancers,
CHAPTER 1. All That Jazz,
CHAPTER 2. American Bridle,
CHAPTER 3. Gotta Dance,
CHAPTER 4. The Show Must Go On?,
CHAPTER 5. Lights, Camera, Surprise!,
There's No Business Like Show Business,
About the Author and Illustrator,