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
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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