In Clair-de-Lune, author Cassandra Golds crafts a fairy-tale world with a city much like Paris, in which a young girl inhabits an odd but enchanting building, full of artistes. When the novel's namesake was just a baby, her mother, La Lune, one of the greatest dancers ever, passed away while performing her signature role as The Dying Swan. Her cause of death: a broken heart. Since that infamous night, Clair-de-Lune never spoke again.

On the brink of poverty, yet too proud to ask for assistance, Clair-de-Lune's grandmother, Madame Nuit, controls every aspect of the girl's life. Realizing that La Lune put love before the Dance, Madame Nuit is not about to let the same thing happen to her granddaughter. With the help of a fortune teller, she steals Clair-de-Lune's ability to love and shapes her into a selfless ballerina.

Although Clair-de-Lune cannot speak, she befriends Bonaventure, a mouse who does. This spirited mouse, with dreams of starting his own dance company, leads Clair-de-Lune down countless steps to a secret part of the building, a breathtaking monastery, and to Brother Inchmahome. The insightful monk immediately senses the girl's pain and agrees to help her learn to speak.

When tragedy comes to the building, the young dancer finds herself on the brink of death. For the girl to live and love again, Madame Nuit must intervene, Clair-de-Lune must listen to what her mother was trying to say before she died, and Bonaventure must reveal the secret of Brother Inchmahome. Clair-de-Lune ultimately discovers that perhaps she does not even need her voice to express her love.

Reminiscent of The Tale of Despereaux, this magical novel speaks directly to readers at times; pays homage to literary greats, such as in mouse publishers Leonard and Virginia; and delivers an allegorical message that love is the most important part of life. What will capture the reader's imagination the most are the story's exquisite language and beautiful, dreamlike sequences. Angela Leeper is an educational consultant and writer in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

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