Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Review: Portaits, Dancing Through Fire by Kathryn Lasky

"She was balanced en pointe on one foot and whipped the other around. Then the second. She had not even completed the second when she thought, almost unconsciously, Oh, I can go around again. It was as if another force had possessed her, a force that allowed her, inspired her to do this third rotation. She had no fear, no second thoughts. It was beyond her control. She was just doing it!" page 37

About the author:

Link for the book at publisher:
Hardback $9.99

Link for the book @ Amazon:
Hardback $9.99

Published October 2005 by Scholastic
176 pages
Reading Level 4.3
For ages 9-12

The dance class by Edgar Degas 1874-1876
Sylvie Bertrand is a "little rat" a young pupil at the Paris Opera Ballet, the year is 1870. Her widowed mother is a laundress and tries desperately to provide for her and Sylvie. An older sister Chantal drops by occasionally for money or food. Sylvie is a dedicated and talented student of ballet. Sylvie's problem is not technique, nor form, nor talent. She must grow another quarter of an inch for her to be promoted to next level.
Her thoughts are on growing; but more sinister events are unfolding in France---war. For a young girl that has thought only of ballet; war and political events seem remote and far away for Sylvie. Sylvie will dance in the foyer de la danse (where classes and rehearsals were conducted) while a war threatens her homeland.
This is a lovely story and I enjoyed reading it!
At times I wondered if this was a young adult story or an adult story. The main character Sylvie is a child, but there are worldly situations going on in her family and in Paris and in France and in Europe, all threatening the life that she has known.
Realistically isn't this the life for many children, menacing forces edging close to a child's world if not living in the same house.
Sylvie is a tender hearted young girl, she notices the delicate and sickly people that need other humans affection and help. Even though Sylvie's world is ballet and she is a talented dancer, she is not arrogant or conceited---she thinks of others.
She is respectful to her mother, there was not a hint of disrespect in her demeanor.
Sylvie is a innocent and rather naive girl, but she is gutsy and brave.
I loved the references to ballet terms, French words, and the environment or back drop of Paris.
The cover on the book is of L' Etoile or The Star also known as Dancer on the Stage, painted by Edgar Degas 1878.

Blissful Reading!

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