Cover Image: Kiki MacAdoo and the Graveyard Ballerinas

Kiki MacAdoo and the Graveyard Ballerinas

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Member Reviews

I loved this book too. The writing flows easily, and the characters in the book are very relatable. I love how the story progresses and ensnares you into it. I was not going to put the book down. I read it so fast
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Eleven-year-old Kiki MacAdoo is excited (and a little nervous) to spend three weeks at the Conservatory of Mount Faylinn, a prestigious ballet academy, with her accomplished sixteen-year-old sister, Alison. After all, Alison got her first pair of pointe shoes when she was twelve, and Kiki hopes that with some extra instruction and improvement, she’ll soon earn a pair of pointe shoes of her very own. As Kiki prepares for their trip, however, it quickly becomes clear that there’s more to the Conservatory than initially meets the eye. From a cryptic warning – “Be aware: Ballets come to life at the Conservatory of Mount Faylinn” – to rumours that a magical forest surrounds the property, Kiki will learn more than how to master a triple pirouette as she, along with her new friend, Oliver, discover the secrets of the Conservatory. But when one of those secrets threatens her sister, Kiki will have to use all of her hope, heart and daring to save Alison from the danger the lurks within the forest and within all of us.

There’s a great deal to love about Kiki MacAdoo and the Graveyard Ballerinas, beginning with the novel’s bespectacled, eponymous protagonist. It’s clear that Kiki is still processing the loss of her mother, who died prior to the events of this novel, but this never prevents her from caring deeply about those in her life. This is particularly evident in the relationship between Kiki and her older sister, Alison. Alison has done her best to look after Kiki following the death of their mother, but it’s clear this care and concern is mutual. Kiki is particularly worried about Alison’s relationship with Dylan, a boy who monopolizes Alison’s attention and treats her poorly, ignoring her calls and texts and being generally unsupportive. While the malevolent spirits outside the Conservatory whisper to Kiki that “A family’s love isn’t enough – theirs is a love of obligation. Only the romantic love of your true soulmate makes life worth living.”, it’s ultimately the love and sisterly bond the two share that helps Kiki save Alison’s life.

As an individual Kiki is equally compelling. She doesn’t have the same natural ability in dance as her sister and is eventually placed in the most basic classes at the Conservatory with girls younger and less experienced than herself. Kiki struggles to master many of the positions and movements being taught, and as a result feels left out and envious of those who improve at a faster rate and who appear more comfortable and confident. Despite this, Kiki never stops pushing herself and is determined to work hard to correct her mistakes and earn the pointe shoes she dreams of one day obtaining. Moments like these remind readers that you needn’t be perfect at something to enjoy doing it, and that with hard work and practice one can continue to learn and grow.

The world of Kiki MacAdoo and the Graveyard Ballerinas offers a variety of elements that should appeal to a a broad spectrum of readers. In the novel, Colette Sewall combines contemporary issues like grief and coming-of-age with the fantastical, as Kiki and Oliver discover everything from magical fairies to a mischievous squirrel in the mysterious forest that surrounds the Conservatory. Readers interested in a few scares will also find a lot to love here, as the author is unafraid to delve into what goes bump in the night, as Kiki escapes an open grave and confronts the terrifying ghost sylphs that haunt the graveyard outside the dance academy and hang rotting, black ballet slippers from the Tree of Decayed Dreams. Readers who have a passion for dance will find a friend in Kiki, though those unfamiliar with the pastime will not feel left out or confused. My only wish is that the novel could have been longer or separated into a duology, to allow the author more space to explore these and other aspects of the story in greater detail and at a more leisurely pace.

With Halloween on the horizon, Kiki MacAdoo and the Graveyard Ballerinas would make the perfect choice for middle grade readers eager to get into the spirit of the season. I would happily follow the inquisitive, resilient and caring Kiki MacAdoo on another adventure in the future!
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**I received an e-ARC from NetGalley for an honest review**

The story art on the cover and the fact that this was listed as "middle grade" made me feel that this book would be shorter, so if you're buying this as an e-book, be aware ahead of time.

Weaving references to Giselle throughout, along with dancing terminology, will keep any dancer flipping the pages.

The story is typical of what you'd find in most middle grade books- Kiki doesn't think she's a good as other people, she has a tendency to look down upon herself, but in the end she manages to pull herself up and save the day.

Overall, 4/5, as the story seemed a little overdone in places. I could see this style becoming a series that references famous ballets.
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This is an adorable story about a young girl saving her sister from ghost sylphs who lure young ballerinas to their death. I loved the strength of our heroine, the addition of the supernatural elements to the story, and the familial love between the sisters.
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Kiki is almost 12 years old, and she is waiting for the day that she is able to starting dancing with pointe shoes. Her older sister, Alison, is the perfect ballerina. She is tall, lean, and dances beautifully. When they both attend a summer ballet camp, Kiki feels lost. She does not think she is a good dancer and it hard to make friends. The forest around the camp seems to be....slightly off. She sees lights moving around the flowers in the middle of the day. Soon, Kiki finds out she isn't alone in the forest, with both beautiful and terrifying things that lurk in the corner. This book was a wonderful read. If it's made into a movie, I can easily sense it very akin to Coraline. I loved the ballet weaving in and out of the book, since I used to dance competitively. I would read more books by this author.
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*This review will be posted on my blog Pizza Stained Pages. The blog should be live by August 23rd. 

Overall Impressions
Kiki and her older sister Alison go to a summer dance camp with an ominous warning; the ballets come to life at the conservatory. Using the classical ballet Giselle as the framework for the story, Sewall brings the Willis, dead maidens who were jilted in love, into a twenty-first-century tale that girls will love. While I enjoyed the plot, Kiki is sometimes very hard on herself as a dancer and the story felt rushed in parts.

Book Themes and Reading Level
Book Themes: sisterhood, imperfection, jealousy, greed, bravery, and familial love
Reading Level: 4th-7th Grade

At Mount Faylinn Conservatory, dancers converge in a remote mountain town to hone their dancing skills for three weeks each summer. While Kiki loves to dance, she is not a very strong dancer and finds herself struggling through class at the camp’s lowest level. Feeling alienated from other dancers, she explores the mysterious woods she is not supposed to go into. While she is there, she learns that Willis, from the ballet Giselle, are real, and they haunt part of the forest, trying to lure other heartbroken young dancers into their clutches. 

* As a disclaimer, I am a dancer, hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, and have taught dance.

I thoroughly enjoyed how the movement sections of this book were portrayed. There are very few fiction books that accurately portray dance actions, with proper terminology, that I feel are satisfactory as a dancer. The vocabulary used in this book will feel very familiar to anyone who has taken dance classes. However, for those who have not taken dance, there are enough movement descriptions to understand what is going on. I also found the use of Giselle’s storyline to be imaginative and unique. This series will be very popular with young dancers because it interweaves the classical ballet narrative with a young girl’s bravery. At times, Kiki could be mean to herself in dance class and never said anything nice about herself while dancing. Young dancers, no matter their ability level, already have many negative thoughts about their dancing, and it would have been nice to balance this with times that she thought she did well.

While I enjoyed a lot of the story, I felt that this book had a lot of information and subplots packed into it. Action-packed adventures are lovely, but not at the expense of not telling the main story. I would have enjoyed more time exploring the Willis and Kiki’s interactions with them. In line with the classical ballet’s narrative, it would have been interesting to develop the Willis characters to be more than just evil sylphs that needed to be defeated. This tale could be an exciting discussion book at summer intensives to discuss classical ballets in an approachable way.  I also feel that the book could facilitate discussion about body image for young dancers and how to understand that it is vital to see both triumphs and room for improvement. I look forward to reading about what ballet comes to life in the sequel and hopefully seeing a more positive self-image for Kiki!
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Cute book and one I think some of my older students would like...especially that ones who like magic and spooky things.  I do think this would work really well as a graphic novel.  I also love the sister vibes of the book.
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Kiki and her sister, Alison are ballerinas in training. They go to Mount Faylinn, a ballet school in Summer. Mount Faylinn is surrounded by a magical forest, a lake and a forbidden forest beyond the lake. Kiki meets Oliver at the school who introduces her to fairies of the forest and also takes her to darker parts of the forest. While Kiki struggles to perfect her ballet poses, she faces a new problem. Her sister is at the right age to be influenced by the darker forces of the forest. Will Kiki be able to save her sister?⠀
I loved the mystery surrounding the non-human characters in the book. This book also highlights the love between sisters and the sacrifices they make for one another. The unique plot of this book, which involved ballet, fairies, ghosts and alchemy made it difficult to put it down. A great read that will keep you at the edge of your seat. This book is suitable for middle schoolers who love their mysteries served with a bit of spookiness.⠀
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This middle grade thriller has a different approach that seeks to unite the delicacy of ballet with the suspense of haunted graveyards. Its cover design is simple, but it manages to portray the main character appropriately. The characters are interesting, although their decision-making ability is questionable. Towards the middle of the book, the story takes two different directions and it tries to explain more plots than I would have liked.
This book has the suspense elements necessary to keep the young reader alert and entertained in a mysterious setting. Even some adults might enjoy this suspense.

The value of family, friendship and perseverance is addressed as central elements of this literary work. I recommend this book for readers over the age of 10 who enjoy thrillers or stories related to ballet practice.
This was my first time reading a middle grade thriller and I really enjoyed it!

"Doing what you’re meant to do makes you shine from the inside"
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Thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for an ARC of this in exchange for honest review.

I really enjoyed this read. It is an adorable, atmospheric middle grade and would definitely recommend to anyone that enjoys middle grade and or ballet. Kiki was a determined curious protagonist and really held the story together. The pacing was great, and the setting with the fey and ghosts was the highlight of the book. I found it a little predictable, (even for a middlegrade) and would have loved to have more interactions between Kiki and her sister.
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Eleven-year-old Kiki MacAdoo travels with her older sister Alison to a three-week camp at Mount Faylinn Dance Conservatory while her dad works in Australia. Alison loves ballet and it is quite natural for her, while Kiki struggles quite a bit. Since this is a camp with set classes, the kids do have time to socialize and explore the beautiful campgrounds. However, the conservatory sits atop a vast land with an eerie lake, and even spookier forest. The kids were purposefully told not to go beyond the forest and across the lake. Kiki eventually meets another student named Oliver. Oliver lives with his grandfather in the forest in small cabin, his grandfather works at the conservatory. While Kiki and Oliver explore the forest in daylight, Oliver realizes that Kiki has spotted the fairies. Kiki then learns a lot about Mount Faylinn and what ominous happenings are within the forest and beyond. As more and more odd things happen, the unthinkable occurs. Alison disappears after a terrible breakup with her boyfriend and Kiki knows exactly where she went. It is up to her to save her sister from the ballerina ghost sylphs beyond the lake in the graveyard site. This summer camp turns out to be one that they will never forget.

What I enjoyed about this spooky story was the character relationships between Kiki and Oliver and even the sibling relationship between Kiki and Alison. Sewall did a wonderful job crafting these characters with great intent and allowing the reader to connect with them so. The setting of this story really stands out to me and I enjoyed that we got a preview of the map of the land to get a better idea in our reader brain. I could imagine the castle-like conservatory high and mighty surrounded by tall evergreens. This was a rather quick read that will engage young readers!
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When eleven-year-old Kiki MacAdoo and her talented older sister go to Mount Faylinn Dance Conservatory for the summer, they ignore the brochure’s mysterious warning that “ballets come alive” in the nearby forest.

But after her sister disappears, it’s up to Kiki to brave the woods and save her sister from the ghost sylphs that dance young girls to their deaths. As Kiki unlocks the mysteries of Mount Faylinn, the ballet of the ghost sylphs, Giselle, simultaneously unfolds, sending Kiki on the adventure of a lifetime.- Goodreads

This book, although creative and adorable, it had a very slow start. It wasn't until about 70% into the book did things begin to happen regarding her sister and the mystery of Mount Faylinn. Was it worth it? It was. I am so use to reading extremely dark books when it comes to faeries and the paranormal that reading this was actually refreshing. I loved the secluded school surrounded by a forbidden forest. The environment is detailed but that wasn't what made the book a slow start up. The author took time to introduce all the important characters in the story before getting to the mystery and that caused me to put the book down for a bit. I picked it back up because I couldn't get Kiki off my brain. She is a curious girl that is also very devoted to her sister but understands  (surprisingly for a little girl) that she isn't her sister and she can have things that are her own.  Kiki is a good narrator and she helps the story a lot. 

Overall, this would be a good introduction to fae and fantasy for children.
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Kiki MacAdoo is such a cute girl who loves ballet but just isn't that good at it. That aspect of the story is so relatable haha. I'm sure every single kid has tried a sport and LOVED it but just wasn't good but kept trying anyways. I loved how relatable Kiki was. I'm an adult now but Kiki reminded me of myself as a child and that really connected me to her!

I enjoyed her sister as well. I liked how the author described their relationship. It was real and something that anyone with a sibling would understand. The emphasis placed on family was great and I loved the dad in the story. He was so supportive and just a special person who had a really strong bond with his daughters!

As for the story - I enjoyed it! I thought it was really cute and fun. I would have been spooked out if I was a kid reading this so I'd say it was well written and had a lot of really fun aspects like magic, ghosts, and faeries. I loved how curious Kiki was throughout the story. She just needed to know what was happening in that forest and of course this leads her into trouble. She was so innocent though and as kids do, she just so openly accepts the secrets of the forest and I really liked that.

The reason I'm giving this book 3 stars even though I enjoyed the story is because it was rushed and at times I felt there wasn't enough information. The book is short (under 200 pages) and while the story was entertaining and the characters were fine, I just felt too much was crammed into a short book. It took away from the overall magical feel of the story and it just kind of fell flat for me because of it.

I do think this is a good middle grade and like I said, I was entertained. So I would say to read this if the synopsis is interesting to you! However, just be prepared for a short read with a lot of stuff crammed in it.
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I loved the concept for this, but it felt like the author tried to pack far too much into far too few pages.
I would have loved if this had been made into a graphic novel instead.
The descriptions of Kiki's sketches and all the magical scenes would have translated beautifully in a graphic format.  
Thanks to NetGalley & Owl Hollow Press for my DRC.
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Entertaining middle grade novel that combines mystery, fantasy, and elements of horror. 11 year old Kiki is off to ballet camp with her older (and much more talented) sister in upstate New York. However the camp is quickly revealed to house more than ballerinas as fairies, will-o-the-wisps, monsters, murderous ghosts, and dark spirits begin to appear in ever increasing numbers. The big baddies of this book are ghost slyphs who lure heart sick campers (and their cheating boyfriends) to their deaths. Far more of the book is dedicated to Kiki's adjustment to camp, her laments about her poor ballet skills, and her grief for her recently deceased mother than the supernatural mystery, so the resulting shift into horror and genuinely scary content is abrupt and startling. Sensitive readers may wish to avoid this book (or at least read it during daylight hours). Familiarity with or interest in ballet is not needed. The final chapter appears to be setting up for a future series of haunted ballet tales.
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3.5 stars 

Kiki MacAdoo and the Graveyard Ballerinas is a charming and spooky story about love, bravery, and learning to believe in yourself. Eleven-year-old Kiki and her sixteen-year-old sister Alison are spending three weeks at the illustrious—and mysterious—Mount Faylinn Dance Conservatory. After receiving a cryptic invitation that may or may not be written in magical ink, Kiki discovers that the woods around the conservatory contain all kinds of creatures...some of whom are quite dangerous, especially after midnight. Kiki explores the forest with a new friend and learns to navigate some of the rules of magic, and when Alison gets drawn into a deadly dance in the woods, Kiki must use what she's learned to save her sister.

The woods around the conservatory are eerie and fascinating. There are fairies, monstrous birds, ghosts, a curiously ill-tempered squirrel, and many other creatures that roam the forest at night. I always appreciate stories that emphasize fairy etiquette, and Kiki learns the hard way how to interact with the good folk. The book suggests that there are a lot more stories to tell at Mount that Kiki is on the fairies' good side (though the jury's still out on that squirrel), hopefully we can see further adventures and learn about more of the magical beasties that lurk in the woods.

I also appreciated the book's emphasis on hard work and personal improvement. Alison is a ballet prodigy, while Kiki is a passionate but much less advanced dancer. People have told the long, willowy Alison her whole life that she looks like she was born to be a ballerina, but Kiki—with her bowlegs and short stature—has never been told anything of the kind, even though she desperately wants to be a great ballerina. As a dancer who absolutely does not have a dancer's build, I really related to Kiki's insecurities as she struggles with form, flexibility, and hopelessness in the face of what feels like an impossible dream. But her teachers tell her that the only person she needs to compare herself to is herself: as long as you're trying your best to improve, you're winning.

I do have one issue with the book, though. All of the characters are assumed white, and the ballet conservatory dress code is black leotards and pink tights only. Throughout the book, pointe shoes are described as being pink and only pink, as if any other option were unthinkable. Ballet tights and shoes are usually (though not always) flesh-colored, and by assuming that every single person's flesh is a pale pink tone, the book excludes dancers with darker skin. Dancewear companies are finally offering clothing and shoes in wider ranges of colors, and I believe it's detrimental to young readers of color for the author to ignore that and assume pink as the default. Ballerinas of all races want—and deserve—to see themselves in stories. I would love to read a sequel to this book, but I hope that it would be more inclusive of non-white dancers.

Kiki MacAdoo and the Graveyard Ballerinas is an engaging, fun, and spooky middle grade novel that encourages kids to pursue their passions and believe that they can do incredible things. It emphasizes the importance of loyalty, friendship, family...and never angering a fairy. It just needs to address its lack of inclusivity to make sure that all readers feel like the inspirational themes are aimed at them.
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This was a really good book! I loved Kiki, Oliver and the general story, which involved Kiki’s older sister, Alison and the wilis. I loved how all the characters were realistically flawed, especially Kiki who was a typical twelve year old, seeing all her flaws and not paying attention to the things that make her unique. This is an adorable fantasy that has everything a middle grade reader would want. It was spooky, sweet and so much fun, with a great sisterly relationship! I also love how a tale of a family without a mother is woven throughout the story and is so heartwarming. The book wraps up nicely but also leaves room for a potential sequel. I’ll definitely be watching out for one!
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Thank you to Netgalley and Owl Hollow Press for my digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

I requested this book because it had a cute cover and every now and then, I really like a good middle grade book with some personal growth in it. Kiki is the main character and it is mostly her growth we see. She and her sister are getting ready to go to a dance conservatory while their dad is off at an archaeological dig and while Kiki LOVES to dance, she is not a natural at it like her sister is. As she is heading out the door, she sees the brochure about the camp and there is something magical about it...LITERALLY. She thinks it was just her mind playing tricks on her and puts it out of her head. Once they arrive and Kiki confirms her fears that she is still not very good at dancing, she wanders into a forest that the kids have specifically been told not to go to. There, she discovers that fairies are real and there IS magic involved with this place. She befriends Oliver who happens to live in the forest and he teaches her about the fairies and other magical beings that coexist there...including ghosts of ballerinas past. There is a story that ballerinas who fall in love and have their heart broken will get taken by these ghosts and added to their collection...and unfortunately her sister has her heart broken while they are there. So begins the fight to save her. I loved that the characters were each true to their age and might be someone I could meet out on the street..i loved that they showed some character growth in that they had to put others over themselves at times...I loved that even though Kiki knew she wasn't as good as most of the girls, she never let jealousy come between them and she never let let it stop her from doing something she enjoyed.
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After having a little trouble at the beginning, I found this to be an adorable story about a young girl saving her sister from ghost sylphs who lure young ballerinas to their death.

Kiki isn’t a natural ballerina like her sister is, but it is something she enjoys. While their father is away at a archaeological dig, both girls attend a dance conservatory at Mount Faylinn. Set next to the conservatory is a mysterious forest which the teachers warn them not to enter. Of course, Kiki does and begins to learn about its inhabitants – the fairy folk as well as the sylphs, who dance the ballet Giselle.

I will admit my struggle at the beginning was due to verb tense. After reading book after book that use a specific verb tense it took a little adjustment on my part to settle in to this one’s style. (Example of the difference “He smiles at her” vs “He smiled at her”) But once I did I found I quite enjoyed the story. The relationship between Kiki and her sister as well as Oliver (a boy who lives nearby) were both heart-warming with a positive, uplifting feel to it. Although there are ghosts and tense moments at the end, the bond between sisters and friends won out.

Using the Giselle ballet was a unique and perfect choice for this ghostly story. Most kids won’t be as familiar with it as the Nutcracker, but once they learn about this ghost-filled ballet they’ll come to appreciate it.

General themes include acknowledging and accepting that not everyone is perfect at everything, jealousy, greed, and sisterly bonds.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and Owl Hollow Press for the advanced reader story and opportunity to provide an honest review.
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I’m intrigued with the cover and blurb, glad I picked it up! MC Kiki Macadoo and her sister, Alison, attend the Mount Faylinn Dance Conservatory for the summer. They ignore the mysterious warning on the brochure that ballets come alive in the nearby. Alison disappears and it’s up to Kiki to brave the woods and save her sister from the ghost sylphs that dance young girls to their deaths. As Kiki unlocks the mysteries of Mount Faylinn, the ballet of the ghost sylphs, Giselle, simultaneously unfolds, sending Kiki on the adventure of a lifetime. This is a fun and entertaining read! Thank you to Owl Hollow Press and NetGalley for an ebook ARC. This is my honest review.
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