Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kid Konnection: Dancing on the Inside by Glen C. Strathy

Dancing on the Inside by Glen C. Strathy
iUniverse, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1462018710
Published July 2011
Trade Paperback, 236 pages

Twelve-year old Jenny Sparks loves ballet, but when she takes her first lesson she has a panic attack and discovers she's terrified of dancing in front of the other students. Jenny is determined, however, to pursue her dream and finds a way to observe the ballet classes to learn the technique. She is befriended by Ara, a girl who dances with passion, and together they come up with an idea for a story ballet. With help from Ara, Jenny not only learns she has a talent for choreography but she learns to conquer her social phobia too.

For any girl who has taken ballet and performed an end-of-the-year recital, this book will resonate. For any girl who is extremely shy or has a hard time making friends, this story will speak to them. The author clearly showed the struggle and difficulty of social phobia through the character of Jenny who thought up ingenious ways of learning ballet without actually participating in class! She had a dilemma and worked hard to still do what she loved. Sometimes, some of the tactics she used got her into trouble, highlighting to what degree this phobia controlled her life.

My daughter and I were proud of Jenny for pursuing her dancing and love of choreography despite her problem. She showed perseverance, not giving up when she could easily have done so. She was also smart and came up with a way to appease her antagonist Veronique, who wanted the limelight and thought she was the best dancer. Ara was a delightful character, spontaneous and fun, and the perfect friend for Jenny. We liked the friendship that blossomed between the two girls.

The story did have a slow start, but this is not a story with a fast pacing. The ballet scenes are described in detail and the characters are one-dimensional. All we really know about them is related to ballet. My daughter and I would have liked to have seen the characters in other settings, such as at school or doing other tween things besides ballet to give us a more rounded view of their personalities. One of the ballet students is a boy, which my daughter and I thought would add a good element to the story, (there are not many 12 year-old boy ballet dancers!) but he is rarely mentioned although most of the other students in the class are, and they play various roles vis-a-vis Jenny. I also wasn't sure how I felt about Jenny's mother who wasn't too supportive of her daughter's new-found talent.

What we liked best about this story was how it showed the value of a good friend, especially one like Ara, who didn't deride her friend's weakness but instead helped Jenny to become the best she could be. And Jenny recognized Ara's talent and worked to help her shine as a ballerina.

This is the perfect story for girls who love ballet and want to pursue a career in this art, as well as any young girl suffering from extreme shyness. This was a new theme for us and it added an interesting perspective to the story. And we loved the book cover. It captured the essence of Jenny perfectly.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.
I will count this book toward the following challenges: Middle-Grade Book Challenge

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: Thanks to the author and Pump Up Your Book Promotions for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Every Saturday, Booking Mama hosts a feature called Kid Konnection—a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, visit Booking Mama.

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  1. This sounds like a good book for anyone with performance phobia. Too bad the boy wasn't featured more but good for the author for including a boy!

  2. This sounds like a good book for girls with social phobias. I also think it would be good for other girls to read so that maybe they could understand their shy peers better. Jenny sounds like she's got lots of spunk!

  3. I bet Booking Daughter would enjoy this one. She doesn't have performance phobia, but she'd love all of the dance and choreography stuff.

  4. Wow! I hadn't thought too much about social phobias in children. Good for her and sticking with something she wanted so badly! Excellent review!


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