of the week
NO BALLET SHOES IN SYRIA
by Catherine Bruton, Nosy Crow, paperback £6.99, ebook £4.74.
AS MANY dance-obsessed youngsters will know, reading about dance can feel almost as magical as a performance itself.
Catherine Bruton’s latest YA/ children’s novel beautifully captures the wonder and spirit of ballet. There’s a deeper purpose to the story, however: 11-year-old Aya, her mum and baby brother are seeking asylum in England after fleeing war-torn Syria.
Joining a local ballet class in Manchester connects Aya with the life she knew back in Aleppo, before the bombing started and her world turned upside down.
Flashbacks hint at some of the traumas Aya has been through, while visits to the family’s asylum case worker between dance classes help explain the challenges children like Aya face.
Bruton handles the topic gently and sensitively. There’s no politics – this is all about human experience, using dance and friendship to demonstrate how, really, we’re all the same, no matter where we’re from.
As Madam Olenska, one of the dance teachers in the book, says: “Ballet knows no borders.”