________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 2. . . .September 13, 2013


Attitude. (Orca Limelights).

Robin Stevenson.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2013.
137 pp., pbk., pdf & epub., $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0382-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0383-1 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0384-8 (epub).

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

**½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



“The point is, Cassandra, that Iako was practically crying at the end of the class because it was too hard. Her hip was hurting.” She smirks. “A dancer has to be strong. If she can’t handle a little pain, how’s she going to cope with being a professional dancer?”

Anya nods. “We should vote her off right now.”

“It’s not our decision,” I tell Melissa. My heart is beating faster than usual, and I wish this conversation wasn’t happening. The last thing I want to do I make enemies. “I mean, we can vote if you want, but everyone will still be here.”

“Will they?” Melissa’s voice is sharp, and her blue eyes are icy.


Cassandra Jordan, 14, has been accepted to the Pacific Coast Ballet Academy in Vancouver, BC. She is scared about leaving her family behind in Australia, but she knows the intense training will prepare her for a future in dance. The challenges start on her first day of class, but it’s not the dance lessons or the teachers that she’s worried about; it’s another dancer. Melissa is determined to destroy the confidence and reputation of every dancer competing against her for the role of Clara in the Nutcracker ballet. At first, Cassandra plays along with Melissa’s “games” because Melissa and Edie (her host family’s daughter) are best friends, but when she sees how much suffering they are causing, Cassandra refuses to participate. Her refusal to be bullied by Melissa causes her to lose friends, her good name, and her ability to dance (she sprains an ankle), but she remembers what she was taught about ballet, and she preservers. By the end of the summer classes, she proves to her teachers and herself that she has what it takes to become a ballerina – courage, dedication, and passion.

     Ballet dancers will likely be familiar with the dance terms used in this story and be able to empathize with the main character’s problems, but my reservations about recommending this book tie in with Melissa. Not only is she not reprimanded for her bullying at the school (the teachers are only going to watch her), but she is chosen for the role of Clara. In addition, Melissa’s victims don’t tell the teachers (or their parents) the whole truth about the effects Melissa is having on their performances. The author indicates Melissa may be acting as she does because of her mother, but this does not excuse her behavior.

Recommended with reservations.

Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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