May 31, 2009

About Books Blog 8: Clair-de-Lune


Author: Cassandra Golds
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

Favorite Line

"Listening is love. And love can be frightening. But love is always good, Clair-de-Lune."


This summary comes from, who described the book far better than I ever could.

Clair-de-Lune lives with her grandmother in the tippy-top of a peculiar old building. Every day she practices ballet, just like her mother before her—the famous ballerina who died when Clair-de-Lune was just a baby. Since that day, Clair-de-Lune hasn’t uttered a word.
Then one day the girl who cannot speak meets a remarkable mouse who can. Bonaventure dreams of founding a dancing school just for mice—but he dreams of helping his new friend, too. Soon the brave little mouse introduces Clair-de-Lune to a hidden world inside, and yet somehow beyond, her building—a world that slowly begins to open her heart. Maybe one day her dreams will come true, too.

What I Thought of This Book

I came upon this novel quite by accident, while scanning the Young Adult section at the book store. The first thing that caught my eye was of course the title, considering that I am familiar with the musical piece of the same title by Debussy. Then I read the summary and saw that it was about a ballet dancer in training. As a dancer, I felt almost obligated to buy the book.

Author, Cassandra Golds, mixed a bit of reality, with a healthy dose of fantasy and mystery, to create this little treasure of a novel. The lead character, Clair-de-Lune, captivated me. She is unable to speak, and therefore must find different ways to communicate without words, including through the movements in dance. My favorite part of the novel is the talking ballet dancing mouse Bonaventure. I love that he starts his own mouse ballet company and creates a technique on how to use the mouse tail during ballet exercises. I mean how cute is that?

Clair-de-Lune is quite possibly the sweetest book I have ever read. I smiled through the whole thing (except for the part where I cried like a baby). It is suggested for children in grades 4 to 6, though as an adult reader I enjoyed it immensely. Of course dancers of all ages will probably think it is fabulous as well.

Facts I Found Interesting

I learned a few things about ballet dance that I didn't already know, especially in the case of male dancers. I obviously knew that female ballet dancers are called ballerinas. However, I did not know that a male ballet dancer is called danseur. A helpful thing to know, considering not long after reading this book I ended up teaching ballet to boys. Please don't ask me how I underwent 12 years of dance study without knowing this. Haha.

The Movie

There is no movie. Somebody please make this a movie. If you do, I will choreograph you a little dance of joy.

Additional Media

I decided to include a couple videos of the famous ballet solo The Dying Swan. In the book Clair-de-Lune's mother, La Lune, dies on stage doing a dance about a swan. In my mind, I imagined that The Dying Swan and the dance in the story share many similarities.

The Dying Swan is a ballet dance choreographed to the music Le Cygne by Camille Saint-Saƫns.

After gaining inspiration from swans that she had seen in public parks and a poem by Alfred Tennyson, Anna Pavlova worked with choreographer Michel Fokine, to create the solo ballet dance in 1905. Traditionally, the swan in Pavlova's dance is interpreted as injured and dying. However, Maya Plisetskaya, who performed the dance at the age of 70, re-interpreted the swan simply as elderly and stubbornly resisting the effects of aging.

I have chosen two videos of the dance. The first is performed by Nina Ananiashvili. I swear the way she moves her arms is unreal. Uliana Lopatkina performs the second. The way she performs the piece both facially and physically is just beautiful to me.

The Dying Swan-Nina Ananiashvil

The Dying Swan-Uliana Lopatkina

Music To Read By

Favorite Albums For Clair-de-Lune

I discovered an album that included music by several classical composers entitled Classics for the Heart. The music fit so well that I listened to almost nothing else but this album. The track list has become the playlist for the book below.

Clair-de-Lune Playlist

Meditations from Thais - Massenet
Nocturne in C# Minor - Chopin
Pathetique Movement - Beethoven
Moonlight Sonata - Beethoven
(Note: I LOVE this song. This is the song I imagine Clair-de-Lune dancing to near the end of the story. I think it's fitting since Clair-de-Lune means "moonlight".)
Sicilienne - Faure
Clair De Lune - Debussy
Song Without Words - Mendelssohn
Vocalise - Rachmaninov
Air - Bach
Prelude in E Minor - Chopin
Prelude in C Minor - Chopin
Intermezzo - Brahms
Andante - Mozart
Beau Soir - Debussy

Well that is all my loves. I hope to get more followers. Sigh. Keep it shiny!

Next About Books Blog: American Gods by Neil Gaiman


Jarrett said...

Dancing is also a form of art. Hence, it is no one can just do it as they like. Dance is like an exercise which you can enjoy. But you want to learn to dance; you should take first the step by step instructions. When practicing dancing, there are different benefits to the body both mentally and physically. Dancing can help our circulatory system by making the heart pumps blood faster. Physically, it maintains the body to become slimmer and keeping you energetic and healthy.

Jonathan Shaw said...

I hope you don't mind, I put a link to this on facebook. Both Cassandera Golds and Sonia Kreschmar, who did the cover illustration, dropped by to say they liked it.

Bryn Talk said...

I love your book blogs Jazz and people are really missing out on good information.

I was amazed at the ballet dancer who had incredible arm movement on the ballet dance. Wow! Shiny!

Keep on book blogging. It is so entertaining.

Jazz R.J. said...

Thanks fabulous comments. Maasa's comment about dance is wonderful and 100% true.

Thanks also to Jonathan who linked the blog on face book. I'm glad Cassandera and Sonia like it.

To my mother, Bryn, isn't that chicks arm movement flipping brillant? Goodness.