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by Michelle Lord

illustrated by Felicia Hoshino


School Library Journal:

Gr 2-5– This fictionalized tale is based on actual events that occurred in the early 1900s, when five- and six-year-old Cambodian girls were trained at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh in the art of their country’s traditional dance. Lord describes how Little Sap, a girl from a family of poor rice farmers, wins a place in the royal dance troupe. After briefly detailing the child’s years of training, the story focuses on a trip to France, where the troupe performs before an audience that includes Auguste Rodin. Enchanted with the gracefulness of the young dancers, the artist arranges to spend two days drawing Sap and two other girls. An author’s note explains that the real sketches, with color washes added, were exhibited in 1907 under the title Danseuse Cambodgienne. Hoshino’s matte acrylic paintings with pen-and-ink outlining and some paper collage contain elements of both impressionist and folk-art styles. They feature eye-pleasing shades of peach, burnt orange, soft yellow, aquamarine, and green. Images of lovely wide-eyed girls, sampan boats, and the cobblestoned courtyard of a French villa draw readers into Little Sap’s world and expose a moment of creative inspiration. An inviting glimpse at Cambodian dance and a sweet tidbit of art history. –Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH –Susan Scheps (Reviewed September 1, 2006) (School Library Journal, vol 52, issue 9, p178)


2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, Ages 0-8, Historical Fiction