Title: Music Boxes
Author: Tonja Drecker
Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Publication Date: March 5th, 2019!
Page Count: 158 (Paperback)
Age Recommendation: 9+
I got this book in exchange for an honest review! Thank you!
“I only desire your talent…”
Twelve-year-old Lindsey McKay’s biggest dream is to be a famous ballerina. But after moving to New York, she ends up at the Community Center with a teacher who’s a burly bear in tights.
When she meets Madame Destinée, the teacher of a top dance school who offers her classes for free, Lindsey can’t believe her luck. In exchange, she must perform in the school’s exclusive midnight shows, ones sure to make her a star. But something’s not right…
One by one, the other dancers disappear. Each time they do, a music box with a figurine just like the missing ballerina joins Madame Destinée’s growing collection. If Lindsey doesn’t discover the truth about the dance school, she might end up a tiny figurine herself. ~ From the Publisher
This book was so cute! I absolutely adored it. It follows a girl named Lindsey who moves from a quaint town in Nebraska to New York City because her eight year old sister is going to Juiliard since she is a violin prodigy. She is an aspiring profesional ballerina and when a mysterious–and fancy–dance school offers to teach her, she leaps at the chance to take lessons! The only twist is that she has to sneak out at midnight and hypnotize her parents to sleep…
Despite some of the belivibility in this book to be quite lacking, I seriously enjoyed this story! I love reading about people who are passionate about something, and I don’t believe I’ve read about ballerinas before. All the ballerina terminology used throughout the book was super fun to read about. At one point instead of using cliched ‘her heart beat a hundred beats a minute’ it says “Lindsey’s heart pounded a thousand waltzes and more.” That’s so cute and clever! I fits the story so well and adds quirkiness to the book.
I also enjoyed the plot. While it was somewhat predictable, there were still enough small details and twists to keep me entertained. The younger audience, which it is aimed for, would probably have a bit of a harder time figuring out what was going on. The pacing of the story was well done and never felt to slow or fast.
Another thing that I personally love to read about is sibling relationships! You usually don’t find strong sibling relationships in common media, as it usually focuses on romances and friendships. I think that there should be more stories written about siblings, simply because the relationship is so odd and complex and completely unique! Siblings are a huge part of your life and character. (You can usually tell when someone is an only child…) That’s why I’m glad this book has such a strong focus on Lindsey and her sister. They are both very talented and highly likely to become famous. Bridget probably already is, seeing as she was accepted into a prestigious college for music at only eight… There is sibling rivarly and jealousy but in the end, their bond is stronger.
I also did appreciate that while the author hinted at romance, it was mostly left untouched. This was a good choice because the book really has no need for romance, especially considering how young all the main characters are. I always hate it when there is a story and it has an awesome plot and characters, and then this completely irrelevant side character comes in and the main character falls in love with them. It’s so pointless and cliched that it becomes boring.
However much I loved this book, there were a few things that bugged me. First off, how and why was Bridget accepted into college at eight? I get that you might be a musical genius, but I don’t know if any human is physically capable of being that smart (I looked it up and apparently you can, but only one person has ever been to college at eight years old.). I get why Bridget had to be talented but I don’t think that this makes sense.
There were also moments towards the end that felt rushed. The whole book had a nice and easy feel, but the last two chapters felt so out of place. They should have been emotional, but important scenes happened so quickly that I didn’t really have time to process or even be sad about what happened before we moved to the next part. The ending, while cute, was also vague and confusing. This was pretty dissappointing to me as I was looking forward to a satisfying conclusion.
Even with all these faults, I still enjoyed the Music Boxes. The story was so refreshingly unique and spun my head in so many different directions!
Quotes that are On Pointe!
Here, the walls were the color of squishy mud. Worms ound mud fantastic.
Lindsey was not a worm.
Her stomach wiggled and wobbled more than a bowl of worms at the idea of sneaking out in a few minutes.
If excitement worked like static electricity, there would have been fireworks.
What Does the Cat Think?
I give this book 4 stars out of 5!
Now, to the author interview! Thank you so much Tonja Drecker for taking the time to answer my questions!
Your biography says that you were a freelance translator. That’s so cool! Has this affected your writing style in any way, and would you consider writing a book in another language?
I became a translator more by accident than anything else. While attending classes at a university in Germany, I jobbed on the side and soon found myself translating letters and documents between English and German for my employer. When my first son was born, it was a profession I could do from home. I was constantly flipping back and forth between the languages, which usually went smoothly, but when I sat down to write a story in English, it was difficult to think only in the one language. Like a brain jam. When I got caught up in a scene, my word choice or sentence structure would slide into the other language, and I wouldn’t notice it until I reread it later on. It made for an interesting mix.
Through translating, I learned something important—not every word translates directly from one language into another. The meanings might be similar, but they don’t always express quite the same thing. There are emotions, experiences and feelings involved in words which simply don’t carry over in translations. And this does make a difference. I’ll be writing along in English and suddenly know what I wanted to say, but can only think of a German term which really fits. This realization has given me a deeper understanding for the meaning behind words, and it forces me to describe moments in different ways. It can be frustrating, too.
Yes, I would write a book in German! Maybe that will happen soon too. Who knows?
In Music Boxes, what inspired you to write about ballerinas?
The idea for Music Boxes hit while I was weeding our vegetable garden. I have no idea why it came at that moment or where it came from because the silly vines I was pulling had nothing to do with ballerinas. I believe much of it had to do with my oldest daughter. Like many little girls, she started taking ballet lessons around kindergarten. When the idea for Music Boxes hit, she was thirteen and had just switched from ballet to hip-hop. She’d been scouted by a personal trainer during her lessons at the dance school, and had begun competing in dance competitions. I think seeing her determination with all of the ups and downs is what sparked the idea.
- If you had a magic teleportation device, but you could only go to one place (and then back), where would you go?
This is so hard to answer. I’m a travel bunny and love discovering the wonderful places all over the world—there are so many! But I think I’d like to zip down to New Zealand or Australia. These places have been on my ‘must see’ list for years. I’ll visit them some day, but if I could get around the long flight, that’d be great. I love flying but sitting in those small seats for more than nine hours makes my legs and back stiff.
What was the first story that you ever wrote?
Chicken Mumps! Like many writers, I’ve enjoyed writing stories for as long as I can remember. I wrote a several page book with illustrations when I was in first grade, stapled the pages together and even added a cover page. I have no clue what it was about, only that I showed it to my father. He asked if I hadn’t made a mistake and claimed I should call it Chicken Pox. I was SO offended!
Do you ever base parts of your stories off of real life?
Not usually, although all stories come from an author’s personal life in some way or another, I suppose.
The only story I’ve written so far which touches on real life experiences would be A Glowworm, an Ubook novella which was published through the Black and White Publishing Company. (An Ubook is a story in typed video format with fitting music, composed solely for the story, playing in the background to help undertone the mood. You can find it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdXZADOteMk&t=257s for free. A Glowworm was published with a reader too, so it can be listened to as an audio-book.) But this story isn’t as much about my own personal experiences as about those of people I met in Germany. The generation which experienced World War II first-hand is getting older, and there are so many details and small things from their daily lives, which are never mentioned in history books or movies. But it’s exactly these little things which make it clear what their lives were really like. I tried to capture at least a tiny bit of this in A Glowworm.
What inspires you to write?
I have no clue—doesn’t that sound like a great answer? Writing isn’t really about inspiration. It’s just a natural part of life. That might sound strange, but as mentioned above, I wrote stories the moment I learned how to write. I’ve never waited for inspirations to hit. They are just there.
Growing up, I wrote a few poems and articles which were published in whatever projects the schools did at the time, but I never thought about it much. Even during college, I wrote stories without wondering whether I’d really publish them someday or what their purpose was. I never considered becoming a writer or going into journalism either. I entered college with the intentions of gaining a dual degree in music and bio-chemistry, and then switched in my second year to Economics and International Studies. But even then, writing was a part of me that was always there, and I’d scribble down stories without wondering about it. Now that I’ve finally turned my attention to writing, it’s the same. Stories and ideas are always there. But even when I don’t feel like writing—which happens more than it should—that’s fine. Life is the real adventure.
If you could give writing advice to your younger self, what would you say?
Have patience and trust your gut. Like everything else, writing is a craft that needs to be learned and will get better with time and experience. And if your gut is telling you something, listen to it.
Oh, and buy that teapot! I dreamed of owning a whistling teapot like my Grandmother but was afraid I wouldn’t use it enough. Considering I drink over six cups a day when writing, I should have bought that thing years ago. The whistle makes me smile every single time.
That’s quite a lot of tea, thank you so much Tonja!
Till next time, Kittycatians👋