Friday, March 14, 2008

DANCEMind: Dear Janie -- The Scarlet Stockings Review


I was asked by Mariya Mazuryan, Precendent Inlimited, a publicity company to read and review the new book, The Scarlet Stockings by Charlotte Kandel. Below is the review.

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CCHT

REVIEW -- The Scarlet Stockings, By Charlotte Kandel

This book is about a little orphan girl, Daphne Green, who has a burning desire to dance ballet. (Daphne had lived at St. Jude's Orphanage since she was a baby. She had no family to speak of.) A self taught dancer Daphne receives an anonymous package containing a book entitled, "How to Teach Yourself Ballet," a pair of scarlet ballet stockings and a riddle. Though confused, the book seems to inspire her motivation to self-instruct. The scarlet stockings are a fun added bonus, until Daphne realizes the power they possess and her need to manage her own emerging self-worth and power.

As she trains for her ballet career high drama unfolds. Daphne's trust in the power of the stockings sets the stage for encounters and many obstacles, one of which nearly costs her life!

After many setbacks, twists and turns, Daphne discovers where true power lies, along with the importance of family and forgiveness.

Although this book is geared to a young teen audience every night I eagerly heated my tea water and climbed into my comfy chair to read. My thoughts wandered to Daphne's plight through the day. I wanted her to succeed, wondered where she was headed and contemplated what I already knew from my reading.

My intentions with this review are not to tell you the story, but to inform you that this book is a good read for an aspiring dancer, a parent with a dancing child, and any child who has strong passions. If you dance, have dreamed of dancing, or have witnessed the roller coaster ride of ballet training and performance, you will identify with this book - the story line and the characters.

Ms Kandel captured Daphne's passion and spark for ballet -- the intense need to dance, to be seen and accepted and her desire to perform. This unstoppable passion drove her ambition and was applauded in many ways. To capture that energy in words is a difficult task. Ms. Kandel's words that described Daphne's ups and downs lifted and lowered my emotions too.

Throughout the story there was always a hint of mystery and the story line wold veer off into another direction just when I wanted it to be fair and good. As we all know the performing arts field is not always fair and good. The events were not predictable and served as a gentle reminder. Anyone who dances ballet will align with these inherent struggles.

To complicate matters, the author unexpectedly wrote in another character or further developed another aspect of the story, ie the riddle, the stockings, the 'family dynamics,' and Daphne's external support system. These elements were woven into the story nicely.

Her descriptions of Daphne were very clear and I was able to imagine her in my mind's eye.
Of course it was my own image yet she came alive which made the story touch my heart. This was also true of the other characters.

The other characters had very certain personalities and appearances. I enjoyed the distinctiveness of each. They stood firm amidst all that was going on with Daphne.

The scarlet stockings are every dancers' dream, the hope of perfection, the freedom of expression and the power of dreams -- that level of consistency and ease is what one aspires toward.

A dancer's dream of possessing absolute certainty of skill, control and command of attention pulls one along to strive toward that illusion of perfection. ALthough it is 'not taught' the implication is ever present, even if only in young eyes.

Again without the detail, I thought the scarlet stockings were ingenius. they were a match for Daphne's intensity, her own need to 'make adjustments,' and to discover her inner strength and other resources.

The Scarlet Stockings, by Charlotte Kandel is a delightful page turner that I would recommend for any young reader who holds passion for ballet ~~ and for life.

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