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    Alicia's Dance
    Denise Martin
    Alicia longs to learn ballet. In her pursuit for dance lessons, she stumbles upon what she thinks is the perfect way to earn money for the lessons.This idea leads her and her friends to a place they never expected to be.

    Price:  $4.99

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    book excerpt

    Chapter I.
    Alicia ran up the driveway, stumbling over some toy left there. Darting through the back door, letting the screen door slam, she plopped in the kitchen chair.
    “Whew!” she huffed catching her breath. She checked the clock; not sure how long she had spent at the Johnson’s house cleaning the mess made by Caesar, their German Shepard. She was forced into playing a game of fetch when Caesar kept dropping his tennis ball into her pile of trash. Any other time she would have initiated a game of fetch or Frisbee or tug-of-war. She would have even interrupted her work just to play with him, but this morning she was in a hurry. Helping Mrs. Garfield weed her flower garden took longer than she expected.
    “Six dollars,” she counted. “And with the fifteen dollars I’ll get for feeding Caesar, while the Johnsons are on vacation…” She scribbled some numbers on the table with an invisible pencil. “I’ll have forty-five dollars. If this keeps up,” she whispered softly, “I’ll have a hundred dollars by the end of the summer. I’m almost half-way there and it’s not even July yet.” She stood up, nodding approvingly at the bounty on the table in front of her. Opening the cabinet door, she reached for the cereal container but then spied the toaster pastries.
    She was hungry. She left home early without eating breakfast. After washing the dirt and kibble dust off her hands, Alicia put two toaster pastries in the toaster and poured a glass of orange juice.
    “Ally,” her mother called from upstairs. “Is that you?”
    “Yes ma’am,” Alicia yelled in reply.
    “Did you eat? Breakfast is on the stove.”
    “I’m getting ready to eat now.”
    She went to the stove, poked at the cold scrambled eggs and toast on the plate and shuddered. Picking up the money from the table, she ran upstairs.
    When she opened the door to her room an explosion of pink encompassed her; everything pink in every shade of pink you can imagine; offset only by a splash of white and a hint of blue arranged more neatly than one would expect from a ten year old. She followed the pink, miniature footprints on the hardwood floor to her white dresser on which she, her mother and sister had painted pink daisies.
    She removed a small, square tin, that once held M&M’s™ from the top middle drawer, placed the money inside; and returned it to its safe location. She changed out of the blue jeans and tee shirt she’d dirtied from the morning’s work, into a pair of pink shorts and a pink and green striped tank top. After brushing her long, brown, curly hair with its sun bleached tips in to a side ponytail; she approved her new ensemble in the mirror and headed back to the kitchen. On her way out, she fixed the pillows on her pink and white canopy bed and arranged her two large Hello Kitty™ dolls just right. Alicia looked at the clock. Good. She still had time.
    She retrieved the two pastries from the toaster and ate them as fast as she could. It was almost time for the ballet program she saw advertised a few days earlier and she didn’t want to miss it.
    Alicia likes all types of dance; tap, jazz, interpretive, modern, but ballet is her new favorite. She became fascinated with it after her fifth grade class went on a field trip last October to see the local ballet troop perform.
    Since then, anytime she is able to watch a ballet on television, she does. She is amazed how they can tell a story just by dancing and longs to learn to dance like the ballerinas she sees on television.
    She often tries to imitate the ballerinas’ movements from television--twirling a frame on tiptoe that seems more suited for athletics than dance. She wants to learn how to move gracefully across the floor like she has seen many times before.
    Because Alicia’s younger sister, Julia, is often sick, going to the doctor and frequently spending days at a time in the hospital, her family does not have the money to spend for dance lessons. Alicia helps out though; doing odd jobs around the neighborhood earning money for some of the extra things she wants to do. Like the time her class went to the county fair, she worked and saved twenty dollars to spend on rides and games. Only, dance lessons would cost more than twenty dollars - two hundred dollars for a six-week class. She heard that it takes years to learn to dance with precision like the ladies on T.V.
    She signed up for free summer dance lessons, which included ballet, at the park’s recreation center. However, there were not enough participants and the program was cancelled. Still… someway… somehow… she was going learn ballet.
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