Ooooohhhhhhhhhh! [warm squishies]

All this talk about dance books on the Center Stage post made me think of the Jill Krementz books for children, ” A Very Young [fill in the blank] “. My favorite hands down was a Very Young Dancer.

This was a photographic journey of a girl who took classes at the School of American Ballet and got the lead in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Either it was fixed, or it was awful lucky that she got the part because it started before the auditions. Secondly, it was created in the seventies so yea, awesome. I read the shit out this one and a few years back snuck into the children’s section of my library and hid in the stacks and read it again. I loved looking at the pictures of all the costumes and performances and jealous of the attention Stephanie got and the fact she lived in New York City. Also, I was irked by her Frankenstein forehead.

My second favorite was A Very Young Skater, starring a girl with a distracting overbite.

She got to wear pretty skate costumes and competed in competitions. This one talked a lot about the technical details of skating, which I remember loving.

There was also A Very Young Rider, which I avoided because of my intense phobia of horses, and A Very Young Circus Flyer, which I avoided because it was about a boy and therefore lacking any pretty costumes, and I recently discovered that there was also A Very Young Actress, which was about a girl who got to play Annie in Annie II in Connecticut regional theater. I am pretty sure I probably read A Very Young Gymnast, but can’t remember the details. Anyone?

37 thoughts on “Ooooohhhhhhhhhh! [warm squishies]

  1. Courtney says:

    OMG! I remember going to the library and borrowing the very young dancer and the very young gymnast over and over! I had forgotten about these books! Thank you!

  2. maybeimamazed02 says:

    Loved A Very Young Actress because I was into theatre and I was OBSESSED with the musical Annie (though I heard the sequel was awful).

  3. Carrie says:

    A Very Young Gymnast: Her name was Torrance York. She practiced with some kind of a club with a German affiliation and towards the end of the book she and her club go to West Germany (ah, those were the days) for a meet. Mostly I remember that they had a group exhibition number to “Live or Let Die”, LOL. Now she’s a photographer, you can check out her stuff here:

    I don’t know whatever happened to Stephanie from A Very Young Dancer, but I was a competitive figure skater growing up, so I know more about Katherine Healy (A Very Young Skater). She eventually chose ballet over skating and danced with a fairly prominent company… I think the English National Ballet. She also has a degree from Princeton. Later, when skating got super popular after the Tonya Harding incident, she skated professionally a little bit; she is also married to a skating coach about 800 years older than she is, yeeeeech.

  4. Katy says:

    I can’t believe I never knew about these books; I would have loved them.

    There was a book from approximately the same era called “Life at the Royal Ballet School” which followed the same format. It had the added bonus points for a) being British and b) featuring boys, too. I checked that one out over and over.

  5. ihatewheat says:

    Does anyone remember a series of books called “__ is for me”? They had them at my school library. It was like “Soccer is for me”; “Horseback Riding is for Me”; “Chess is for me”. They were also photographed biographies of kids with interests. I was obsessed with “Baton-Twirling is for Me”.

  6. nichole says:

    I remember the girl from A Very Young Skater from that movie with Mary Tyler Moore and Dudley Moore – Six Weeks. She has six weeks to live so they spend it in New York and her dream is to be a dancer so she gets to play a scene in the Nutcracker. Then she collapses on the subway after the performance.

  7. maybeimamazed02 says:

    jordanbaker and ihatewheat–Annie 2’s title was eventually changed to Annie Warbucks, and the storyline changed in a major way after awful out-of-town reviews. You can catch it in community theatres and such now. It’s still not good.

    ihatewheat–A Very Young Actress was the only book in the series I was familiar with. I only learned about the others after I outgrew the series.

  8. Anne says:

    Sorry to say I’ve never heard of these, but I checked out my library website, and they have some of them! So they’re going on the list of books to borrow (this list gets longer and longer and longer)

    There were a couple of other titles, as well…

    A Very young Gardener
    A Very Young Musician

  9. Cyanne says:

    I had A Very Young Dancer and was mildy obsessed with it. I can still see most of the pictures in my head (one in particular that stuck with me is one of her wearing some crazy colored kerchief on her head – how 70s!). I also remember how she said the snow falling at the end tickled when it fell down the back of her nightdress πŸ™‚

    I wonder what happened to Stephanie; she must be like 40-something now.

  10. Vanessa Saxton says:

    Nichole- I remember that movie. What the heck was it called? I remember being so creeped out that she put her ballet skirt in her mouth right before she went on. Don’t know why it creeped me out. Maybe because of the overbite?

  11. LimeGreenTriumph says:

    There are videos of Katharine Healy (A Very Young Skater) performing on YouTube. She got to skate in a show with John Curry, the 1976 Olympic Champion. She did choose ballet and became a prima ballerina at, like, 15.

  12. nichole says:

    Vanessa – I remember that scene. She put tucked up the nightgown to crawl on stage to change places with the real Clara. My sister and I used to watch that movie all the time when we were younger.

  13. Amber Tan says:

    “There was a book from approximately the same era called β€œLife at the Royal Ballet School” which followed the same format. It had the added bonus points for a) being British and b) featuring boys, too. I checked that one out over and over.”

    OMG, Katy! I think I must have re-read “Life at the Royal Ballet School” about a zillion times. Even at an early age, I was obsessed with men in tights/ tight pants. πŸ˜‰

  14. jane says:

    Jennifer Sey (the US gymnastics national champion in 1986) recently wrote a book called Chalked Up. In it, she talks about her obsesion with A Very Young Gymnast. She was so excited to meet Torrance York … and disappointed to find out that Torrance wasn’t a very good gymnast.

    You know, no pressure being featured in one of these books! Good memories for the rest of us, anyhow.

    • Laurie P says:

      Yes, she was a very good gymnast and was asked to partake in a gynm that trained for future Olympians but decided not to go. πŸ™‚

  15. Alison says:

    I too was obsessed with the “A Very Young” series. Thank you for reminding me of these, because I loved them! And Torrance York ended up going to Yale and becoming a famous artist/photographer. It’s nice to know she became a success (even if it wasn’t at gymnastics!)

  16. Rachel says:

    I found my copy of A Very Young Dancer when I was going through some closets. I had to read it again. I loved that book – A Very Young Gymnast was my second favorite.

  17. patience says:

    I loved those books, especially “gymnast” and “dancer.” I probably read them each 100 times, and couldn’t wait to check them out of the library for my own kids, who don’t seem to love them as much as I did. I swear, I recall a “Very Young Chef” as well.

  18. Renn says:

    As a rider, I absolutely adored A Very Young Rider. I didn’t want to be main character Vivi Malloy so much as I wanted to be her older sister Debby, who rode at Madison Square Garden. But I loved that the girls kept their ponies at home and took care of them themselves. The book still gives me the warm fuzzies.

  19. Renn says:

    Also, the trainer in A Very Young Rider, Jonathan (whose last name begins with an S but escapes me at the moment) has been recently convicted of possessing child pornography. Which is not so fascinating as the book, but an interesting tidbit.

  20. Hatsumomo says:

    I remember these books! Since I was a gymnast myself, I was obsessed with A Very Young Gymnast and checked that out from the library all the time.

    I know that the girl from A Very Young Actress became an AIDS activist because shortly after her run started with Annie II described in the book, her voice teacher died of AIDS.

  21. marieke says:

    I own A very young Gymnast. At the end there is a not saying that Torrance made it to JO (kinda like pre-elite is now).

    A very young skater I read over and over as well as A very young dancer. Katherine Healy made it big as a Ballet Dancer at a very young age and is still coaching skating in NYC.

    The British book about like at the Royal Ballet School I own as well, bought it at the library for a quarter at some point. LOVED IT.

  22. Christine says:

    The German club Torrance York belonged to was the “Long Island Turnverein-I know this because I used to work out with her and I am pictured in the book. I revisited the book today because I wanted to show it to my daughter’s friend who is a gymnast. I was curious about what happened to Torrance and stumbled upon this site.

  23. machocomacho says:

    I recently bought copies of Very Young Rider, Gymnast, Skater and Dancer for my 7 year old daughter and she seems to like them but is not quite as obsessed as I was. She likes the Dancer book the most because she is a dancer. I was into the Gymnast book because I did gymnastics, although nowhere near as good as Torrance York!

    I believe Vivi Malloy from the Rider book is a social worker in the Chicago area and still rides. Sadly, her older sister Debi who was an accomplished equestrian died this year of injuries sustained in a riding accident. Torrance York from the Gymnast book is a photographer and lives in New Canaan Connecticut. I believe she had a chance to train for the Olympics at one stage but did not want to leave her family so she chose not to pursue it. Katherine Healy from the Ice Skater book achieved the most book related success as she not only became a professional skater, but was also a principal dancer with the English National Ballet, Monte Carlo ballet and I think the Austrian Opera Ballet. Stephanie Selby from the Dancer book did not join the ballet company & I’m not sure what happened to her from there although I’d hazard a guess she has been a great success in life.

    Anyway, all of the subjects of the above books are high achievers and even though the books are obviously dated, they remain the source of great memories for me and hopefully inspiration for my daughter.

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