Music Boxes

“I only desire your talent...”
Twelve-year-old Lindsey McKay's biggest dream is to be a famous ballerina. But after moving to New York, she ends up at the Community Center with a teacher who’s a burly bear in tights.
When she meets Madame Destinée, the teacher of a top dance school who offers her classes for free, Lindsey can't believe her luck. In exchange, she must perform in the school’s exclusive midnight shows, ones sure to make her a star. But something’s not right...
One by one, the other dancers disappear. Each time they do, a music box with a figurine just like the missing ballerina joins Madame Destinée’s growing collection. If Lindsey doesn’t discover the truth about the dance school, she might end up a tiny figurine herself.

Author: Tonja Drecker

Genre: Middle grade fiction / Magical Realism

Paperback, 158 pages

Publishing Date: March 5th 2019 by Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

ISBN13: 9781939844569

My Review

Magic spells, haunted halls, disappearing dancers and a fluffy dog...

The hauntingly enchanted magic of Music Boxes is sure to deliver chills and thrills in the reader's heart. Barnes & Noble @bnkidsblog recently suggested this book as "5 Spooky New Middle-Grade Books for Campfire Chills" in their 'Summer Reading' post with just the right level of scary for kids ages 8-12, and I couldn't agree more.

Lindsay and her parents are moving to New York City to live in a cramped apartment because her sister Bridget has been accepted to a special music school for the gifted. Life in the hustle and bustle of her busy street is certainly different from her farm life back in Nebraska.

Heavy-hearted, Lindsay unpacks the little possessions she was able to bring. Among those is the little music box with a dancer on top that her grandmother had given her on her 12th birthday. A small and special trinket to cherish in exchange of leaving behind her dancer friends, the ballet classes and dance outfits.

As Lindsay's parents start their jobs right away with long hours, Lindsay finds herself walking down the street one afternoon to pick up some pizza for their dinner meal and gets sidetracked by dancers in the window of a prestigious ballet school run by the once famous Madame Destinee. With a pitter patter in her chest, she is invited to come in and try out to dance with the other dancers.

Something magical has happened! Perhaps she can forgo the ballet lessons at the local Community Center that her parents have signed her up at and dance for Madame Destinee's instead. There's just one tiny issue...her parents are never to find out if she is to become a student at this prestigious school.

Splendor and food galore await Lindsay every practice and evening performance as she sneaks out her apartment in the nights to star in Madame Destinee's amazing shows.

Lifted to heights in Pas de Deux's and swirling pirouettes in the wonderful show, she is caught between a world of splendor and reality, that lead her to notice some unusual things happening around her.

As one dancer after another is disappearing, she is trying to solve the fate of her friends. A task that is taking her down shifty hallways, escape magical spells, see the truth and risk her life. When her sister disappears as well, she is confronted with choices to make that will affect her entire family and being. An unlikely Samaritan helps Lindsey sort through the witchcraft to lift a curse from long ago.

A haunting page-turner awaits the reader in nail-biting suspense to the end of the novel. The perfect middle grade read for non-boring summers!


While reading this story I had distant reminders of The Nutcracker story pop into my mind. Like smelling cookies bake or feeling the first chills in late autumn that brings forth winter, I was reminded of my distant childhood being consumed and enchanted by long afternoon reading escapes. A bit of magic and a bit of mystery made this a lovely and suspenseful book to get into.

A perfect book to gift :)

I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

All opinions are my own.

Thank you!