Kepley's dream is to dance in The Nutcracker. She practices diligently in her ballet class, and remembers to smile at the audition--even though her tummy is doing pirouettes. When the audition results arrive in the mail, Kepley is elated. She's a doll! Then come the rehearsals, the fittings for the beautiful poufy dress, and finally...the thrill of stepping out under the glowing stage lights. For everylittle girl who loves to dance--a story as sweet as the sugar plum fairy.

illustration from The Nutcracker Doll by Mary Newell DePalma
This is the true story of my daughter Kepley's first Nutcracker with the Boston Ballet. It was exciting for the whole family!
Do you take ballet lessons, or dream of performing onstage? This book is about you.

Find Kepley paper dolls on my fun page.

Horn Book
Young ballet dancer Kepley tries out for a part in The Nutcracker.
She gets a small role that involves no dancing--she's a doll standing under the Christmas tree--
but her enthusiasm is big, and ballet fans will share her excitement about being involved
in a professional dance production.
...The text thoughtfully keeps the spotlight on the young dancer's feelings
in a book that's as sweet and delectable as a Christmas cookie. --J.M.B.

Kirkus Reviews
...DePalma's short, easy-to-understand text unfolds in a clear, linear fashion,
making many of the various aspects of a ballet production understandable.
...Simple but appealing watercolor illustrations show little girls of different ethnicities in class or rehearsals
with their hair up in proper ballet buns and dressed in the correct attire for young students.
Other illustrations bring the ballet world to life in the costume shop, dressing room and backstage in the wings.
Little girls who are studying ballet or getting ready to attend the show
will enjoy reading about Kepley's successful performance. (Picture book. 4-8)

New York Times Book Review
DePalma winningly captures a young girl’s excitement and hard work as she auditions and is chosen
to play a doll in “The Nutcracker.” Never mind that it's a tiny part--she mainly has to keep still

while being carried offstage by "a man pretending to be a giant mouse!" The real action is backstage,
where dancers put on their costumes and gather in the wings, preparing to step onto
the brightly lighted stage that looks "like a different world." Julie Just

With it's numerous roles for children, The Nutcracker is a rite of passage for many ballet students.
In this charming picture book, inspired by her daughter's participation in Boston Ballet productions,
Depalma offers a realistic portrayal of a young dancer's professional debut...
DePalma draws out all of the auxiliary benefits of moving from the barre to the stage,
no matter how minor the role--from the glamour of costume fittings and photo shoots
to the pleasure of watching the show from the "cocoon of the wings."
...Although this will slot nicely into seasonal readings,
young balletomanes will find the performer's-eye view fascinating year-round...Jennifer Mattson

Illustration from the Nutcracker Doll by Mary Newell DePalma Illustration from The Nutcracker Doll by Mary Newell DePalma
These two illustrations are available as giclee prints. A great gift for aspiring ballerinas!
Details online: Child at Heart Gallery

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