Betty Cavanna Helen Gregory - Essay

Helen Gregory

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Ballet Fever, the rewriting of Cavanna's 1947 Take a Call, Topsy] does no major revision to the plot—the story of a girl who must give up a posh finishing school and her football hero boyfriend for a career in dance, and overcome her schoolgirl crush on an instructor; with a subplot showing the growth of her little sister during a crisis following an auto accident in which her mother breaks her leg. The revision, renamed perhaps to cash in on "Saturday Night Fever," simply removes out-of-date references (Vera Zorina, snoods, "bids" to dances, etc.), streamlines the prose, cuts back on detailed descriptions of clothing, and changes the heroine's name from "Topsy" to an innocuous "Teddi." While the plot is centered on her ballet career choice and the dance references are generally accurate and interesting background, there isn't a lot of real dancing, and the image of Teddi as "a pretty picture in the frothy ballet skirt … small and well made, with blonde hair that fell heavy and shining to her shoulders" leaves something to be desired…. It's not bad reading, the work of a craftsman, if not an artist. (p. 60)

Helen Gregory, in School Library Journal (reprinted from the January, 1979 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co. A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1979), January, 1979.