Eleven-year-old Lindsey McKay’s biggest wish is to become a famous dancer. But when her mother enrolls her in a ballet class with a teacher who’s as burly as a bear in tights, she knows her dreams will never come true. Luckily, she meets Madame Sinistra, the mysterious teacher of a top dance school only a few blocks away.
The eccentric teacher offers to give Lindsey lessons for free so long as she promises to perform in the school’s secret midnight shows. Lindsey can’t say no, not when she finally has the chance to dance on a real stage. She sneaks out of her parent’s apartment and is soon the star of the show. Although she’s thrilled to be dancing her heart out, something about the school isn’t quite right - one by one, the other students disappear. And each time they do, a music box with a figure just like the missing child joins Madame Sinistra’s growing personal collection.
As the class shrinks, Lindsey fears she’ll be next. If she doesn’t find the truth about the missing kids and stop Madame Sinistra, she might just end up as a tiny figurine herself.
MUSIC BOXES is a 41,000 word middle grade fantasy, which takes a typical girl’s ballet dreams on a dark fairy tale ride.
I thank you for your time and effort, and look forward to hearing from you.
A pretty melody filled the darkness. It was a magical melody. Whenever Lindsey heard it, she pictured herself standing in the middle of a stage. The spotlight beamed down on her and hundreds of people waited for the show to start.
Then, she would dance.
Lindsey flicked on the flashlight and watched the ballerina rotate on its pedestal in the music box. Its tiny, yellow skirt flared out around its waist like rays of sunshine. Everything else on the figure was painted. The face looked so real, as if it might speak.
“Yes, you’re right,” Lindsey whispered, pretending that it could hear her. “I wish we hadn’t moved to New York, either.”
The ballerina didn’t say anything. Lindsey knew that it wouldn’t. She wasn’t stupid, but talking to a music box probably did qualify her as being crazy. After all, eleven-and-a-half-year-olds don’t talk to their toys. But crazy or not, it made her feel better.
Something hit against the wooden floorboards with a loud Bang! Lindsey jumped, accidentally snapping the box closed.
“Music…pretty, pretty music.” Her little sister, Bridget, mumbled in her sleep, tossing and turning in the sleeping bag on the floor several feet away.
Lindsey lay still until Bridget’s snore filled the room again. Then she opened the box. The pretty ballerina performed a perfect pirouette. Its arms stretched into the air, its tiny fingers almost touching each other, but not quite. Amazing that someone could carve wood so small and make it look real. Maybe that’s why the creator, a toy-maker named Jeannot Broussard, had been so famous.
Lindsey thought Jeannot was a funny name. Her mother claimed it was French. The only reason Lindsey could remember it was because her parents always told her that she should be careful with the box. Especially when she snapped it closed.
“Lindsey, do you have to shut it so hard?” her mother would say. “Jeannot Broussard will turn over in his grave, if he hears that!”
“If he has a grave,” Lindsey answered once. Momma had thrown a wet dishtowel at her head and told her not to talk back. But it was true. No one even knew if he had a grave, so how could he turn over in it? Poor Jeannot Broussard had disappeared years ago. Not even the police knew what had happened to him.
“As if the ground broke open and swallowed him up,” Papa sometimes said.
Lindsey wondered if that was possible. If it was, she hoped it never happened to her.
“No! Don’t stuff me into the violin!” Bridget tossed back and forth, banging her legs against the floor. Lindsey ignored it. It was just another nightmare. Her sister had them every night the last week.
“Bridget’s not used to the new situation yet. It’s hard for her to adjust,” Momma kept saying.
“Hard for her? And what about me?” Lindsey whispered. She looked at herself in the small mirror glued on the inside of the music box and frowned.