James the beagle was a real dog. His master and mistress worked with the National Ballet of Canada, and between 1961 and 1972 he went with them to the studio, the rehearsal hall, and the theater where the dancers performed. Perhaps this is what James dreamed about when he lay quietly on the floor, his eyes fastened on the twirling dancers.
From puppyhood James wanted to dance. Now, he certainly helped the dancers. He practiced their lifts with them. He helped them keep their figures trim by sharing their lunches. He allowed himself to be patted as a good luck talisman before the dancers went on stage. But this was not enough for James. In his heart he longed to be a dancer himself, to soar across the stage, the spotlight on him.
One day the notice is posted that the company is to perform Giselle. The ballet includes a meaty role for a hunting dog, and James is sure that his moment has come. But the role goes instead to a long-legged wolfhound. James is left out in the cold. That is, until the wolfhound gets stage fright.
About the Author
Linda Maybarduk was born in New York City and raised in Orlando, Florida. During her fifteen-year career as a first soloist with the National Ballet of Canada, she danced a wide range of leading roles and was hailed as one of the company’s most versatile dancers and actresses. She has also appeared in guest appearances on stage, television, and film. Her partners have included Mikhail Baryshnikov, Peter Martins, Anthony Dowell, Fernando Bujones, and Rudolf Nureyev. Her first book, The Dancer Who Flew: A Memoir of Rudolf Nureyev – a tribute to her colleague, mentor and friend – garnered several North American award nominations and provided Linda with a new career as a guest lecturer and teacher to major arts and dance organizations, performing arts centers, and universities. While in the National Ballet, Linda toured and shared many lunches with the star of this book, James the Beagle. Today, she shares her life with her husband, three children, and her airedale, Ivy.
Gillian Johnson is a gifted athlete, teacher, storyteller, and artist. Her first children’s book, Saranohair, was awarded Honorable Mention for the Graphics Prize in Bologna in 1992. My Sister Gracie, published in 2000, was awarded the Alcuin Design Award and has earned fans in Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Iceland, and Venezuela. She has collaborated with author Richard Scrimger, providing the illustrations for their books about Baby Bun Bun, which include, most recently, Eugene’s Story. She also illustrated Dennis Lee’s The Cat and the Wizard. Gillian Johnson lives with her husband, writer Nicholas Shakespeare, and their sons in Tasmania and England.