Thursday, July 11, 2013

Orca Limelights

I just finished a first draft of a book for a new series my publisher Orca Books is starting called Orca Limelights. I’m excited about this performing arts series because I love reading about music, theater, and dance, and there are so few books being published today about kids performing.As a kid I loved all the Dancing Shoes books by Noel Streatfeild. Ballet Shoes was one of my favourite books ever, with Dancing Shoes coming in a close second. I loved these books as a child because I took dance lessons and enjoyed performing, but I also liked them for their portrayals of British children’s lives. Even if the kids were orphans or lived with uncles who disappeared leaving them in questionable financial situations, there was also a daily regularity to their lives that I found comforting. 

Noel Straetfieild
While I always assumed Noel Streatfeild was a man (and that he must have lived eons before I was born), a quick Google search has shown me that the author was actually Mary Noel Streatfeild, and that she was still alive when I was reading her books as a kid. Streatfeild was born in Sussex  in 1895 and lived until 1986. She worked in the in the theatre for ten years and used her experience in performing arts to write her books. Streatfeild also wrote many adult books, including three semi-autobiographical novels which I am keen to read.   

While my own book won’t be out until 2014, there are several books coming this fall from the series that sound really promising. Attitude by Robin Stevenson, author of Record Breaker and many other great YA titles, is about a girl trying to fit into a new ballet school. Cassie is an exchange student from Australia who is being bullied. When she realizes other summer visiting students are being threatened, she decides to speak out. Stevenson’s book sounds like it will resonate with a lot of teens. It also has the kind of cover I would have been all over as a pre-teen. 

Also out this fall is Cut the Lights by Karen Krossing. Cut the Lights is about a girl named Briar trying to direct a school play. Briar has a vision for the one-act play that her cast and crew don’t seem to share. I think anyone who has tried to direct a play, or who has struggled to work on a group project will relate well to this story. It also has a great cover.