Sunday, April 16, 2006

Review: Clair-de-Lune

Clair-de-Lune, by Cassandra Golds, is a ballet story for the middle-grade reader. That being said, Clair-de-Lune is a completely different ballet story, one that includes a touch of fantasy and much on the perils of The Dance.

Clair-de-Lune is a student of The Dance. Her grandmother, with whom she lives in an unnamed city, in an unnamed time, was also a Great Dancer. Her mother, La Lune, died performing a beautiful dance and was considered the best dancer of her generation.

Clair-de-Lune studies The Dance at Monsieur Dupoint's Select Dancing Academy for the Children of Artistes who Aspire to Enter their Parent's Profession. She is considered the best dancer of her class, but is roundly disliked by her fellow students because she can not speak. They call her a snob.

One day, Clair-de-Lune meets a mouse, Bonaventure, who is concerned about her sadness. He takes her to a monastery on the sea to "talk" about her affliction with Brother Inchmahome. At the same time, Bonaventure founds his school of dance for mice. Through her conversations with Brother Inchmahome, observing Bonaventure's pure love of and dedication to The Dance, and hearing "something subversive in Church," Clair-de-Lune learns that there may be something more important than The Dance. Love. Clair-de-Lune vows to smile at people and when they smile back in surprise, Clair-de-Lune begins to heal.

There are a series of cataclysmic events towards the end of the novel that derail Clair-de-Lune's healing, but in the end she learns the truth about herself, her mother's tragic death, love, and The Dance. Clair-de-Lune is a beautiful novel and the fantasy elements work well without being overly sentimental or cute. Highly recommended to sensitive, perceptive middle-grade readers and one of my favorite books of 2006.

As an aside, I loved the name of a Russian dancer in the book (Superblatov), a subversive name to say the least. I wonder if Golds has some Russian help in naming this character?