Samantha-Ellen Bound, Broadway Baby (Silver Shoes #5), Random House Australia, 1 October 2015, 144pp., $14.99 (pbk) ISBN 9780857989031
Samantha-Ellen Bound, Lights, Camera, Dance (Silver Shoes #6), Random House Australia, 1 October 2015, 144pp., $14.99 (pbk) ISBN 9780857989055
Silver Shoes is a great chapter book series for primary school-aged girls who love to dance. It’s centred around four friends who meet in jazz class, with each girl also taking classes in another dance style. Each book is told from a different dancer’s perspective.
Broadway Baby is all about Ellie, who loves jazz, but is inspired to become a singing, dancing, acting “triple threat” so she can perform musical theatre. The story follows her as she auditions for a local production of Mary Poppins, which also requires her to brush up on her tap skills. Ellie has just turned 11 and she endears herself to readers by sharing her nervous and jealous feelings and in the way she values her friends.
Broadway Baby is broken into 18 chapters of 5-6 pages each – so it shouldn’t take too long to read “just one more chapter, please”. There’s half a dozen black and white illustrations scattered throughout the book to help bring the characters to life.
Lights Camera Dance follows Ash, the “hip hop girl” as she tries her hand at the reggae-inspired dancehall to score a spot dancing in a superstar’s music video. Ash is bullied by jealous dancers, but handles each situation with grace and maturity beyond her 11 years.
In contrast to Ellie, who is an only child, doted on by her parents, both Ash’s parents work full time and she relies on her older sister to help get her to auditions. Ash also helps out at the dance studio for discounted lessons. It’s great to see each book in the series highlighting the girls’ differences. Lights Camera Dance is split into 17 chapters of 7-9 pages each, interspersed with a handful of black and white illustrations.
In both books, author Samantha-Ellen Bound, herself a dancer and choreographer, includes lots of dance terms and dance moves, but not too many to take away from the stories. She adds a glossary at the back of the books to explain them. There’s also a great section at the end which gives a brief history of the styles of dance featured in the books. She also lists famous dancers, as well as relevant musicals and movies, making it easy for young readers to further explore the styles via google or YouTube.
Reviewed by Carissa Mason