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Sugar Plum Ballerinas #1: Plum Fantastic Paperback – October 21, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 153 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2–4—Alexandrea has just moved from small-town Georgia to New York City's Harlem where her mother hopes to launch a costume-making business. The nine-year-old feels like she's in another world, except that Mama is still forcing her to take ballet, even though Alex dreams of becoming a speed skater like her idol Phoebe Fitz. The first day of class is made even worse, since her mother forces her to wear a wild creation—a tutu resembling a "pink puff pastry." When Alex is randomly assigned the coveted role of Sugar Plum Fairy in the school's summer performance, she is terrified and shunned by the other dancers. Practice doesn't help, and she seriously considers giving up the part. However, after seeing Phoebe Fitz on television talking about the importance of ballet, Alex determines to try her best. She enlists the help of other students, and as the girls progress with the dance moves, so do their friendships. Alex's voice is full of wit and determination. This fun easy chapter book develops at a good pace and creates a bit of tension and anticipation as readers follow Alex's efforts. Themes of self-confidence and the potential to achieve whatever you set your mind to are neatly woven into the story. Occasional spot art shows Alex and her new friends.—Bethany A. Lafferty, Las Vegas-Clark County Library, NV
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Moving is never easy, but for Alexandrea Petrakova Johnson, the move from a small southern town to Harlem is unbearable. Al’s mother wants to try her hand at costume designs for New York City theaters, and she wants Al to become a ballet dancer—not, as Al wishes, a speed skater. Soon Al finds herself in the classroom at the Nutcracker School of Ballet, reluctantly wearing one of her mother’s embarrassing creations. Al’s winning personality leads her to make a few friends, but just as things seem to be getting better she courts jealousy by being cast as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the annual performance of The Nutcracker. Eventually, friendship, lots of practice, and ingenuity help Al overcome serious stage fright and clumsiness to give an unforgettable performance. Those looking for Goldberg’s trademark sass and attitude will not find it here: this first book in a planned series earnestly addresses the effects of moving, making friends, and settling into a new routine. Grades 3-5. --Bina Williams
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 1 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 2 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 650L (What's this?)
  • Series: Sugar Plum Ballerinas (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Jump At The Sun (October 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786852607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786852604
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book. The story is engaging and believable, the characters are fully fleshed out, and the illustrations are terrific. Kids will relate to Alexandrea's struggles to adapt to her new life in Harlem, and her efforts to deal with her well-meaning stage mother. Funny and heartwarming, I really cared what happened to Alexandrea and her mother, and I can't wait for the next book in the series. Kudos to Goldberg and her coauthor Deborah Underwood for creating a world kids will want to come back to over and over again!
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I learned about this book, authored by Whoopie Goldberg, while the
watching the "View" and decided to give it a try.
This is a wonderful story that my granddaughter just loves. She is now four, knows the characters by name and though she can read some, asks me to read from the book all the time.
Mike Colgan
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Format: Paperback
We got this book as a gift and I have been reading it aloud to my 10 year old boy and 6 year old girl. They love it and can't wait for the next installment to come out next spring! A wonderful, innovative story that is very "real" with a main character that tinged with just the right amount of scarcasm. Tempo is good and the imagery is descriptive enough for those getting used to hearing chapter books aloud.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Alexandrea Petrakova Johnson is not crazy about ballet, but her mother is. So much so, she has filled Alexandrea's room with everything ballet. Her bedroom mirror has pink ballet shoes painted around it, she has pink ballet shoe drawer handles, the lamp, comforter and pillowcases have ballet shoes too. Her mother was so obsessed with all things ballet that she moved them to Harlem New York so that Alexandrea could attend the Nutcracker School of Ballet and so that she could get a job designing costumes.

Ms. Debbe, the ballet instructor, announces that there will be a drawing for the Sugar Plum Fairy dance. All the class is excited with the exception of Alexandrea. She is not interested at all and feels that her chances are slim of being picked, because she has the competition of 23 other students. But as fate would have it, she is picked to be the Sugar Plum Fairy. Alexandrea is worried that she won't be able to learn the routine and once on stage, she will make a complete fool of herself in front of lots of people.

When she watches her favorite speed skater on television actually doing a ballet routine, she begins to have hope. She will need lots of help from her new friends at the Nutcracker school. Alexandrea is having fun and bonding with her new friends, until she comes home one day to find her mother has packed them up after two months of living in New York.

Goldberg has done an excellent job of introducing this wonderful story of ballet. Moving to a new town and making friends is tough for anyone. This is a quick read and a hilarious story that young girls will relate to. The back of the book has the definitions of the ballet terms used.
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I bought the first two books of this wonderful series before my daughter actually started reading a couple years ago. Now that she is in the first grade, this series has helped to give her an excitement for reading that I had when I was young reading Judy Blume. Hurray Ms. Whoopi for giving us some books for our little girls to see themselves in. The Sugar Plum Sisters are a very recognizable group of young girls with real life issues. My daughter absolutely loves this series and we can't wait for the next book to come out! The stories are wonderful and believable. Definitely food for thought for young minds. If you don't have any children of your own, please consider buying for someone elses' child!! You are the best Ms. Whoopi and thank you AGAIN!
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This book was great. Perfect reading for a 7-8 year old. The storytelling really drew me and my daughter in. She was excited about going to bed so that she could read to me. She was a little hesitant about reading a chapter book, but after reading the second page she was hooked. My reason for getting this book was so my daughter could have characters she could relate to. I liked the fact that there where characters that looked like her. I think she made a better connection with them because of that. This was want I wanted for her plus some. She can read this on her own or with me or her father. Can't wait to finish the series.
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Format: Paperback
My daughter received this book for Christmas. She is six years old and we are reading it together. It is so good. It reminds me of being a kid growing up. The kids in the book tease each other and my daughter and I talk about the book. My daughter does not like to practice reading. However, she laughed out loud at Brenda talking backward and Tiara girl highmindedness. It is the first time since she has begun reading that she has been excited about a book.

I would never have bought a book written by a celebrity. However, I am grateful that someone did and gifted us with this book. It is a true gem for young girls.
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This is an excellent book for a young girl. It teaches self-confidence and helps understand that everyone is different, but also very much alike.
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