Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You By Dorian Cirrone

dancinginredshoeswillkillyoucirroneDancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You


by Dorian Cirrone

  • VOYA: 4Q4P J
  • Lexile Level: 790L
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTrophy (February 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060557036
  • ISBN-13: 978-006055703

Kayla has a lot going for her; she has a great network and family and friends who support her budding ballet career, she’s a good student at Florida Arts High School and has a very generous heart and tons of natural talent.  There is really only one thing holding her back from a promising career– size double D breasts.  In a field known for clean lines and perfect form, Kayla’s gigantic chest is definitely a hindrance.  When yet another plumb part is denied her, Kayla begins to wonder if she can pursue her dreams without giving in to the knife.  Her dance teacher thinks she should consider reduction surgery, but Kayla’s not so sure.  Everyone at school is in an uproar (okay, maybe just the guys…) and have started a series of protests including a “Save the Hooters” campaign.  As if Kayla’s life wasn’t complicated enough, rehearsals for the school’s production of Cinderella are threatened when a pair of ominous red shoes are found outside the studio with a note proclaiming that “dancing with red shoes can kill you.”  Is someone threatening a member of the cast?  As more shoes appear around campus, Kayla begins investigating the line (from a Margaret Atwood poem) and the gender issues surrounding the disturbing Red Shoes folktale.  Kayla begins to wonder if this may not all be a misunderstanding.  Is one of the students making an artistic statement?  And is F.A.R.T.S. ready for it? 

Cirrone develops a fine cast of likable and diverse characters in a large, urban setting that many readers will be able to relate to.  Kayla, her sister Paterson, and her gay best friend are all particularly well drawn and engaging.  As the three face issues of gender, beauty, and artistic expression, readers are treated to an interesting examination of folklore and poetry.  When issues of censorship appear, the book gains momentum and finds its way out of the mystery genre and into more serious classifications.  Along the way, readers will delight in many breast jokes and general high school hi jinks including arch-rivals, competition, and the infamous rumor mill.  In the end, Dancing is a great read for young readers who have well developed reading habits and bodies.


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