Sugar Plum Ballerinas: Dancing Diva


By Whoopi Goldberg

By Deborah Underwood

Illustrated by Ashley Evans

Formats and Prices




$6.99 CAD



  1. ebook $4.99 $6.99 CAD
  2. Trade Paperback $6.99 $9.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around May 8, 2012. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

The sixth book of the award-winning and bestselling Sugar Plum Ballerinas series by Whoopi Goldberg—now featuring brand-new illustrations!

At the Nutcracker School of Ballet in Harlem, young dancers learn to chassé, plié, and jeté with their Sugar Plum Sisters—but things don't always go to plan! As the girls encounter challenges both on and off stage, they'll need the support of their classmates to carry them through with aplomb.

Epatha knows she's the perfect pick for the lead in the new Sugar Plum ballet. But her dream role isn't as fabulosa as she imagined. When she tries to spice up the choreography with her free-spirited style it's up to the rest of the Sugar Plum Ballerinas to keep Epatha's toes in line. Will Epatha listen to her friends or can she convince the other ballerinas that her way is the best?


To anyone with a dream

Text copyright © 2012 by Whoopi Goldberg Illustrations © 2012 by Maryn Roos

All rights reserved. Published by Disney • Jump at the Sun Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Disney • Jump at the Sun Books, 114 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011-5690.

ISBN 978-1-4231-5466-2

Visit,, and

Chapter 1


“I’m in the kitchen, Abuela,” I say. I’m standing at the sink, where a big plastic dishpan full of bright purple dye is waiting. I carefully examine my old spaghetti-sauce-stained leotard. (When your parents own an Italian restaurant, a lot of your clothes end up with spaghetti-sauce stains.) I’ll start with the sleeves, then see what happens.

I dip the edge of the leotard into the dye and smile as the purple creeps up into the fabric. Then I dip the other sleeve in. But finally I can’t help myself: I push the whole thing into the pan. The dye water feels nice and warm, even through the rubber gloves I’m wearing.

I lift the leotard out. Where it was crumpled up, there are streaks of white that make cool patterns. But mostly it’s purple, purple, purple. Fabuloso!

Abuela appears in the doorway. “Another creation, Epatha? Precioso.” She leans closer and whispers, “I think you get this flair for bold colors from me. Not from Nonna.”

As if on cue, Nonna, my other grandmother, comes into the kitchen. She is as short and stout as Abuela is lean and graceful.

As usual, she’s wearing all black. She waddles over to the sink.

Bello, Epatha. Very nice. Colori vivi brillanti—but wearing bright colors is just fine. For children,” she says, glancing at Abuela’s flaming red pantsuit.

Here we go again. Nonna is my dad’s mom. When my grandpa died, she moved from Italy to live with us. I was just a baby then, so she’s been here as long as I can remember. Abuela is Mom’s mom. She moved here from Puerto Rico a year ago, and I think Nonna’s still mad about it. They’re always bickering about something.

“After you clean up, maybe you’d like some mantecaditos,” Abuela says. Mantecaditos are Puerto Rican butter cookies, one of Abuela’s specialties.

“Hmph,” Nonna grunts. “I think she would rather have some of my biscotti. And you don’t need to clean up, cara mia. You have had a busy day at school. Go, relax. I will bring you a snack.”

“I still need to rinse this out,” I say, holding up the leotard, which is dripping purple dye into the sink.

“I will rinse, I will rinse,” Nonna says. “Go.” She pushes me away from the sink, I guess so she can start rinsing before Abuela decides she’ll clean up after me. But Abuela’s already at the kitchen cabinet loading up a plate with cookies she baked this morning.

I shrug. It makes them happy to do things for me, and to tell the truth, I hate cleaning up dye—it makes a big mess. So I carefully peel off my gloves and head to my room. I know that in five minutes, both grandmas will be at my door with heaping plates of cookies. I’ll eat exactly the same number of each. I made the mistake of eating more of Abuela’s once, and Nonna stomped around in a huff for days. Then, when they’re not looking, I’ll stick the rest of the cookies in my sock drawer until I can smuggle them out to my friends.

As I head down the hallway to my room, I remember I left my backpack downstairs in our restaurant.

When I walk through the swinging doors at the bottom of the stairs and into the restaurant kitchen, a blast of warm, garlic-scented air hits my face. One of the kitchen guys is unloading the dishwasher. The sound of clattering silverware echoes off the shiny walls.

Bella Italia is almost empty, which isn’t unusual for this time of day; it’s only four thirty in the afternoon, and the dinner crowd won’t start drifting in for another hour or so. Mom and Dad are talking quietly in a booth. This freaks me out a little. I’m trying to think of the last time I saw both of them sitting down in the restaurant. Usually they’re doing something: filling salt shakers, straightening napkins on the tables, or sweeping up after a toddler has decided to toss sugar packets all over the floor.

“It won’t be easy,” Dad says. “How will she get to all those rehearsals if she gets in?”

“We can figure it out,” Mom says. “Amarah can help, now that she’s in college. Most of her classes meet before noon. And it would be too bad for Epatha to miss out just because of logistics.”

“What are logistics?” I ask. “What are you talking about?”

They both jump up. “Nothing, querida,” Mom says.

“What kind of nothing?” I ask.

“Don’t worry—it’s a good nothing,” Mom says. “You’ll find out tomorrow at your ballet class.”

Dad bolts for the kitchen, and Mom rushes after him. I’m left in the empty room with my mouth hanging open.

Chapter 2

The next afternoon, I bound up the stairs of the Nutcracker School. It’s a gorgeous April day. The trees are just starting to get tiny pink buds on their branches. For the first time this year, I’m not wearing my winter coat. I look fabulosa in my new purple leotard, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it. And more importantly, I’m dying to know more about the good nothing.

My friends are gathered in our usual corner of the waiting room. Terrel, Brenda, and one of the triplets—Jerzey Mae—are clumped together talking as they put on their ballet slippers. Jessica, another triplet, is scribbling on a piece of paper. Al and JoAnn, the third triplet, are looking at a skateboard magazine. Since JoAnn recently broke her leg on a skateboard, this surprises me.

“Don’t tell me you’re getting back on a skateboard,” I say, dropping my dance bag on the bench. “Ragazza pazza. You’re crazy, girlfriend.”

“I busted my leg because I tripped on my skateboard. In my room. Not because I was riding it,” JoAnn says, with exaggerated patience. I get the feeling she’s said this a few times before. Probably to her parents.

“When she actually rides a skateboard, she wears knee pads and a helmet and stuff,” Al adds.

“Maybe you need to wear knee pads and a helmet walking around your room,” I say.

“Not a bad idea,” JoAnn admits. Of the triplets’ rooms, hers is always the messiest.

Jessica glances up from her paper. She looks me up and down. “Is that leotard new?” she asks. “It’s a beautiful color.”

I proudly turn around, displaying my fabulous, newly purple creation. “Yes,” I say. “Fresh from Epatha’s House of Dyeing.”

Jerzey Mae’s eyes widen. “Who’s dying? Is it contagious?”

Brenda shakes her head. “Hypochondriac a such are you.” Brenda talks backward a lot of the time. We can understand her, but grown-ups can’t, which sometimes comes in very handy.

“What’s a hypochondriac?” Jerzey Mae asks, alarmed.

“Someone who thinks she’s getting sick all the time,” says Terrel. “Like you.” She puts her sneakers neatly under the bench.

“Not dying dying, Jerzey Mae. I meant fabric dyeing,” I say impatiently, eager to get everyone’s attention back on my new creation. “Do you like the white streaks?”

“Nice,” Terrel says. “But couldn’t you get them to go in a straight line? They’re kind of all over the place.”

I exhale. “They’re not supposed to go in a straight line, T.,” I say. “They’re creative! They go wherever they want to! That’s the beauty of tie-dye. Straight lines are boring.”

I sit down on the bench beside Jessica.

“Whatcha doing?”

“She’s writing a poem,” Jerzey Mae says. “A sonnet.”

“A what?”

Jessica looks up. “A sonnet. It’s a kind of poem that has fourteen lines.” She starts talking about the rhyme scheme—something about A’s and B’s and C’s—but I’m stuck on the fourteen-line business.

“Why does it have to have fourteen lines?” I say.

Jessica shrugs. “It just does. That’s what a sonnet is: a fourteen-line poem.”

This sounds crazy to me. “But what if you’ve got more than fourteen lines to say? Or less than fourteen lines?”

Jessica laughs. “That’s just the way it works, E. When you write sonnets, you’re supposed to be creative inside the rules you’re given.”

I snort. “Creativity and rules don’t go together.”

“Tell that to Shakespeare,” Jessica says.


On Sale
May 8, 2012
Page Count
160 pages

Whoopi Goldberg

About the Author

Whoopi Goldberg is one of a very elite group of artists who have won the Grammy, the Academy Award, the Golden Globe, the Emmy, and a Tony. Currently, she is the moderator of ABC Television Network's The View. Whoopi is equally well-known for her humanitarian efforts on behalf of children, the homeless, human rights, education, substance abuse and the battle against AIDS. Among her many charitable activities, Whoopi is a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations.

Learn more about this author

Deborah Underwood

About the Author

Deborah Underwood has written numerous picture books including the New York Times bestsellers Here Comes the Easter Cat, The Quiet Book, and The Loud Book! She has also written Part-time Mermaid, Part-time Princess, and Interstellar Cinderella.
Jorge Lacera was born in Colombia and grew up in Miami, Florida. He graduated from the Ringling College of Art and Design. He illustrated the picture book Zombies Don't Eat Veggies, with his wife Megan Lacera. He lives in Canada.

Learn more about this author