Author: Dale Rensing
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN-13: 978-1484997154

I am going to be perfectly fine, Jacques. Someday, I will be a famous dancer like Mademoiselle Fiorette,” Jewel states emphatically in Dale Rensing’s short book, Jewel of the Opera Garnier.

At sixty-two pages, this thin paperback targets nine to twelve year old readers, especially young girls who like ballet, dance, and the theater. With no profanity, scary scenes, or violence, it focuses on achieving goals through perseverance and dedication. Each of the ten chapters begins with a black and white photograph of a famous Paris opera house, costumed ballet dancer, or painting of the era. The ending includes a glossary of almost thirty French terms with pronunciations.

In this novella set in the late eighteen hundreds in France, eleven year old Jewel finds herself daydreaming often of being a famous dancer. After her mother dies and her grandmother comes to live with her artist father and her in their small, meager home, she wishes she could be like Mademoiselle Fiorette, a beautiful dancer who performs at the Moulin Rouge. 

Although her friend, Jacques, is wary of Fiorette’s character, he admires the young girl for her determination and hope for the future. When Jewel’s grandmother dies and her father has no one to take care of her, she is approached by the well-known dancer to become a seamstress at the nearby Opera Garnier.

As Jewel’s heart is fixed on dancing, she dutifully accomplishes the mending, designing, and alterations of the opera’s costumes, wishing and praying that she could become a ballerina. When the outfits need to be adjusted for dance movement, the girl who sews is allowed to participate in beginning ballet classes to understand the complexities of the “carriage of the arms.” 

Through Jewel’s love and hard work of the beautiful dance, circumstances allow her to experience the ballet in a unique atmosphere, with the potential to obtain her cherished goal.

Having a plethora of information about ballet and dance, Rensing provides a charming painting of Paris at the start of the industrial revolution, seen through the eyes of a young dancer during the period when cabarets and opera houses were flourishing.  Engaged readers will be able to pick up a few French words along the way to add to their vocabulary.

Thanks to Bookpleasures and the author for furnishing this book in exchange for a review based on the reader’s honest opinion.

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