Friday, February 22, 2008

Cassandra Golds

by Cassandra Golds
Recommended Age: 10+

Here is a beautiful, gentle, romantic book, written so musically that it begs to be read aloud. Children who are studying music, dance, or the French language may like it best - especially, if I may say so without being arrested for gender stereotyping, especially girls.

Clair-de-Lune is the daughter of a celebrated ballerina named La Lune, who died on stage when her daughter was only a baby. Now Clair-de-Lune and her strict grandmother live at the top of a very strange building, close to starvation, kept going mainly by the charity of the dance company that hopes the girl may someday follow in her mother's footsteps. Clair-de-Lune does lessons at home, attends a dance class where all other girls are jealous of her talent, and struggles to live up to her grandmother's exacting standards...but she does not speak. She has never uttered a word.

One day, Clair-de-Lune meets a talking mouse named Bonaventure, who lives in the dance studio and dreams of teaching mice to dance. Together, the talking mouse and the silent girl visit a monk who has so perfected the art of listening that he can actually understand the things Clair-de-Lune wants, but is unable, to say. Each day the girl and the mouse travel to the monastery, mysteriously located somewhere in Clair-de-Lune's building though it seems to be far away on the sea, and Clair-de-Lune tries to answer one of the questions by which Brother Inchmahome means to teach her how to speak.

Before she reaches the end of that journey, Clair-de-Lune is tested by tragedy and crisis. Heartbreaking secrets about her history are revealed. A dream, or vision, that may leave you chuckling through your tears, turns the tale toward its sweet and hopeful ending.

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