Mousetrap! Tallulah's Nutcracker by Marilyn Singer
THERE WAS ONLY ONE CHRISTMAS PRESENT THAT TALLULAH WANTED.
WHEN THE PHONE RANG, SHE WAS SURE HER WISH HAD COME TRUE.
"THEY PICKED ME! I'M GOING TO BE A A MOUSE IN THE NUTCRACKER!"
As is the job of little brothers, Becket points out that Tallulah disdained his role as Mouse in their dance school's production the Christmas before.
"BUT BEING IN A REAL BALLET COMPANY IN A REAL THEATRE IS BIG TIME!" TALLULAH INSISTED. "MAYBE I'LL BE ON TV!"
Tallulah throws all her energy into being a good mouse, trying to crawl creepily out of the clock as Clara falls asleep under the Christmas tree, Her knees take quite a beating, but Tallulah just knows that if she can impress the ballet master as the best mouse in the troupe, she will be paving her way to a starring role as Clara or even the Sugar Plum Fairy someday.
"I BET THEY ASK FOR MY AUTOGRAPH!" SHE DREAMS.
At last opening night comes. The huge theatre is resplendent, and the Sugar Plum Fairy sparkles in the stage lights. Tallulah's whole family is out front with hundreds of others, and although she secretly believes she is the very best mouse, she has some butterflies in the stomach as the director hisses "PLACES!" The orchestra begins the cue for the mice to make their entrance creeping out of the old clock and scurrying around the stage. "GULP!" thinks Tallulah as she senses the big audience watching for the first big scene in the story.
"I'M THE SCARIEST, MOST MARVELOUS MOUSE OF ALL," SHE REMINDS HERSELF!
But pride goes before a fall, and as the mice stealthily approach the footlights, Tallulah steps on the tail of the mouse in front of her.
Tallulah barges into the fallen mouse in front of her and sets off a series of unfortunate events. concluding in a pile of mice and toy soldiers center stage. Chuckles spread through the audience.
The show must go on, and a much chastened Tallulah Mouse picks herself up along with the others as they regroup and finish their routine. Tallulah exits and runs for a place to hide, feeling that she's flopped in her one chance to be a star--ever!
But to her surprise, when the curtain goes down the dance master and the dancers playing Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy find her and console her with stories of their own embarrassing stage moments. Playing a boy at Clara's Christmas party, the ballet master says he burped so loud the whole audience roared. "Clara" recalls the time she was dancing as a snowflake and went onstage still in her striped legwarmers, and "Sugar Plum Fairy" tells her about the time she did a fast pirouette and her tutu fell right off. These things happen, they say. That's show biz, but the show must go on. And then the dance master adds,
"BUT A REAL DANCER KEEPS RIGHT ON DANCING, AND THAT'S WHAT YOU DID."
As always, our Tallulah gets a little ahead of herself in her dreams, but gets some good advice from older and wiser dancers, in Tallulah's Nutcracker (Clarion, 2013). It takes a troupe to make a real ballerina, and luckily Tallulah has plenty of support for her big ambitions. As always, too, Alexandra Boiger adds her elegante watercolor artwork, revealing character in facial expressions and body language in a way that extends Marilyn Singer's skillful narrative. Little balletomanes will find Boiger's cover illustration of every young dancer's dream, the Sugar Plum Fairy, in her glittery white gown, irresistible, while taking comfort perhaps in just being in the show.
Other Tallulah tales by Maryilyn Singer are Tallulah's Tutu, Tallulah's Solo, Tallulah's Toe Shoes, and Tallulah's Tap Shoes (see reviews here) for all those aspiring ballet stars.