Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

On Stage, Please

On Stage, Please

Veronica Tennant
Illustrator:  Rita Briansky 
For ages 9 to 12
Tundra Books, 1979   ISBN: 978-0887764646

Jennifer Allen has a lot to get used to when her family moves from England to Canada. There is a new school, new friends to make, a new language to learn, and a new town to explore. There is also a dream which Jennifer has long kept in her heart and which she hopes will finally come true in this new country. More than anything Jennifer wants to take ballet lessons. Back in England she saw the ballet Cinderella and since that time she has dreamed of the day when she will be able to wear a leotard and ballet slippers and learn how to be a ballerina.

Jennifer finally gets the opportunity that she has long been waiting for when she gets invited to audition for the Toronto Professional School of Ballet. Competition is stiff and if she gets in she will have to live away from her family but Jennifer decides to try anyway and to her amazement she gets in.

Thus begins Jennifer’s life as a ballet student and it turns out to be a lot harder than she ever imagined it would be. The days are long for she has to attend lessons in her usual school subjects as well as classes for ballet. Every muscle in her body aches and there are times when she wonders if she really can bear to continue in this life. But, over time, Jennifer gets better and when she is given a small part in a ballet, she begins to hope that perhaps she will one day manage to be a ballerina after all.

Prima ballerina Veronica Tennant is in a unique position to know how hard it is for a young girl to work her way up through the ranks to become a prima ballerina, and in this book she paints a very realistic portrait of what a young ballet student’s life is like. Just as one of the characters in the book says, “it’s not all glamour” and Jennifer finds this out for herself, the hard way.

With characters who are easy to identify with, young readers will quickly find themselves getting caught up in Jennifer’s story, hoping that she finds her place in the ballet world that she truly seems to love.