Marie lives for her dance lessons with Gabrielle and dreams of becoming a ballerina, but without a rich patron to pay for more lessons, she knows that her dream will never come true. She tries to be like her happy-go-lucky friend Joelle and go along with her parents' plans to send her to a convent to learn homemaking skills and prepare for her eventual marriage, but she knows that it will break her heart. Instead, she turns to Prudence, an artist who has come to stay at her family's pension (boarding house) in Paris. Prudence is from the American colonies and encourages Marie to reach for her dream. However, Marie is forced to look outside of her own problems as students and poor people begin to riot for flour in the streets. Her friend Joelle's bakery is broken into and their money stolen - how can the king and queen allow this to happen? Don't they care about their own people? As Marie continues to search for a way to become a dancer, she also starts to grow up and look outside of her own troubles and see what is going on around her.
This is a charming look at Paris, France in 1775, right before the revolution began. Marie is a typical young girl who is very worried about her own life and sees everything else as being peripheral and unimportant, but she does come to see outside of her family life in the story. She also learns that she can make people happy with her dancing and that she can share her talent for it whether she is a professional dancer or not. I think that most young girls will identify with Marie and will enjoy this story. It is a nice challenge for readers starting to get into chapter books, but at 71 pages, with large type, it will be a fun, easy read for more experienced readers. It is true that some of the conversations are a little stilted as the author tries to work in more historical background, but at least children are learning history while they are reading. There are full color illustrations scattered throughout the text, as well as a pronunciation guide for the few French words used in the story. Printed on glossy paper with a nice finish, this book is sure to appeal to fans of the popular American Girl series.
This report prepared by Debbie