Dance with your Heart
Bronwyn Mulrooney, author
Ballet, dance, adventure, mystery, fantasy and a touch of first-love romance combine in this spellbinding series for preteens and teens. Thirteen-year-old Gemma James is just your average girl with anything-but-average dreams of being a professional ballet dancer. She attends the prestigious SA Ballet Academy – an eerie old ballet school where nothing is quite what it seems. Now the academy is putting on a performance of the enchanting ballet Giselle, and Gemma is determined to get a lead role. But the discovery of a 100-year-old mystery in the depths of the old academy building one moonlit night, stiff competition from the other teen dancers, and the constant harassment of Super Snob and star performer, Aimee Atherton, all threaten to derail Gemma’s chances. Plus cute new boy Ethan Blake has just transferred to the academy from a top London ballet school, and he’s complicating things even further. Can Gemma help lay the old school’s secrets to rest and still get her chance to dance?
In this paranormal-based middle grade debut, 13-year-old dancer Gemma James attends the South African Ballet Academy in Johannesburg with her friends Dineo and Marley. Sneaking out after curfew one night, the girls meet Emily, the ghost that haunts the school. The daughter of the academy’s founder, Emily was a ballerina who died by suicide at age 16 after she learned that the boy she planned to wed had married someone else. With the help of their friend Mitchell and new student Ethan, the girls pledge to help Emily move on. Meanwhile, the Grade 7s are putting on a performance of Giselle, and Gemma hopes that landing a solo will prove she truly belongs at SABA. While the two plotlines never fully cohere, each is enjoyable as the group researches the history of the academy and Gemma deals with a bully and a crush in her quest for a solo. Despite the inclusion of a trio of stereotypical mean girls, Gemma and her friends all have authentic voices, and Gemma’s struggles resonate. Ages 8–12. (Self-published.)