Samantha-Ellen Bound, Rhythm and Blues (Silver Shoes #7), Random House Australia, 4 Jan 2016, 136pp., $14.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9780857989079
Samantha-Ellen Bound, Studio Showdown (Silver Shoes #8), Random House Australia, 4 Jan 2016, 136pp., $14.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9780857989093
Silver Shoes is a dance school for girls ranging from ‘tinies’ upwards. This junior series revolves around four girls, about 10 years old, their friendships, frenemies and dance dreams. I found some of the conflict in these books surprisingly bitchy – but sadly I guess this is how girls can be – surprisingly bitchy! There are some life lessons to be learned however as the girls manage to say sorry and reconcile by the end of each book. I’m not sure if Miss Caroline – the dance leader – is deliberately hands-off, allowing girls to resolve their own issues or is blissfully unaware of the hothouse of emotions her studios contain.
The author’s background in dance lends authenticity to the series. We have a birds-eye view into the behind-the-scenes primping and cattiness (we’re alerted to an incident where one dancer’s costume was deliberately stained preventing her performance) and the technicalities of certain dance routines (the Jive in Book 8). And there are evocative scenes where we see through the character’s eyes the excitement of performing in a ballet theatre where the greats have been before them.
I think this series could be usefully employed to generate personal development discussions with girls in the classroom. The books feature many examples of the kinds of dramas that beset this age group – an injury which prevents a child from participating in their favourite sport and the frustration that this creates, falling out with your best friend, learning to collaborate and multiple instances of the terrible green-eyed monster.
Reviewed by Heather Gallagher