Thursday, 2 June 2011

Thursday Thoughts - Review of Alana Dancing Star: Samba Spectacular by Arlene Phillips

Alana's crazy about dancing and can't wait to take part in Step Out Studios' big Latin show! But her samba isn't the greatest, she doesn't have a costume because her mum hasn't had time to make one, and fellow dancer Verity is continually putting her down. Then she walks past a costume shop she could have sworn wasn't there last time she looked, dives in to try on a beautiful dress, and finds herself mysteriously transported to the Brazilian carnival. Time for Alana to shine!

I picked this up despite it being significantly below the age range I normally review for because I heard Arlene Phillips read extracts from a few of her Alana series a month or so ago at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury and was keen to read a full book. I'm really glad I did - even though it's shorter and simpler than I'm used to it's a charming read which I'm sure will be loved by its target audience. Alana, her friends at Step Out Studios, and mean girl Verity are all well portrayed, and the illustrations throughout the book are completely enchanting - beautiful line drawings which complement the text perfectly. There's a nice mix between the realistic bits taking place in Alana's normal life and the vividly described Brazilian carnival as well.

The transportation from putting on a costume will be instantly recognisable to readers of a certain age as being inspired by the Mr Benn cartoon - or so my mum tells me! It's a plot device which has led to six books already in this series and will no doubt allow Arlene Phillips to write many more if she chooses to do so. Dance mad kids will lap them up and this is the start of a series which will be enjoyed by lots and lots of girls - I've passed my copy onto my young cousins, who were hooked instantly.

I'm sure fans of this one will also be hooked by Anne-Marie Conway's Star Makers series.

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