Step Up and Dance, by Thalia Kalipsakis

It was the letter of my dreams – a Valentine’s letter, wrapped in a blood-red envelope, leaning against the soy sauce on our kitchen table.

I picked up the envelope, flipped it over and dropped it beside my plate because just then I was more interested in the soy sauce. Mum’s sushi rolls after a late dance class are to die for, like Tim Tams at the right time of the month.

Saph is living her dream life. She’s only sixteen and already dancing professionally in a cheerleading squad for a NBL basketball team. Then a Valentine’s day letter arrives from the NBL player she secretly has a crush on. Now her dream life is perfect. Only it isn’t. The letter is a hoax. Saph can’t believe someone would be so cruel. Then she discovers who sent the letter. She hoaxes the hoaxer and the hoaxer responds. Meanwhile, pressure is on to develop new routines for the cheerleading squad as major sponsors become interested and their television exposure increases. This is the big time and Saph is feeling just a tad overwhelmed. Nothing in her rigorous training has prepared her for this. Add in an overprotective father and a close friend who is enjoying the revenge setups just a little too much and the scene is set.

Step Up and Dance is title six in Allen & Unwin’s Girlfriend series. As with other titles, Step Up and Dance features a plausible storyline and a realistic main character, Saph. Saph loves to dance. Her father is a little overprotective, but until now, Saph has been okay with that. Things are starting to change. She’s keen to stretch her wings, and working with older girls (and boys) has convinced her it’s time. She’s also keen to prove that dancing is her vocation and that she’s as ready for the demands of professional dancing as the older dancers. There are themes here of appearance versus substance, the changing nature of friendships and more. Family dynamics are explored as is the cost of following your passion. The energy and spirit of the characters is well reflected in the design of the front cover. An engaging and entertaining read. Recommended for mid-secondary readers.

Step Up and Dance, by Thalia Kalkipsakis
Allen & Unwin 2008
ISBN: 9781741755558