Sugar Plum Ballerinas: Perfectly Prima


By Whoopi Goldberg

By Deborah Underwood

Illustrated by Ashley Evans

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 20, 2022. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

The third 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.

Perfectionistic Jerzey Mae desperately wants to be a ballet dancer. But she's frustrated by her own lack of talent–and by her friends' jokes about her terrible dancing. Things get even worse when her little brother Mason attends her ballet class, totally embarrassing Jerzey in front of her prima ballerina idol, Miss Camilla Freeman. When Jerzey learns that Miss Camilla will be attending their recital, she's determined not to make a fool of herself again. But her efforts to learn her dance are continually thwarted–until she finds help in a very unexpected place.


To Mason,

my favorite little man


Text copyright © 2010 by Whoopi Goldberg Illustrations © 2010 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 978-1-4231-4149-5


Chapter 1

I look at my new set of felt-tipped pens. There are thirty-six, all lined up neatly in the holder on my desk. Well, they’re neat now. At first, Forest Green was out of line by a sixteenth of an inch and Magenta’s label wasn’t facing straight up, but I got them back into place. So now, they’re perfect. Satisfied, I settle onto my pink canopy bed and open my book.

Then it starts. Thumping, thumping, and more thumping.

Then humming—the theme song for Robo-Knights, a cartoon about robot knights on wheels who don’t seem to do anything except crash into each other.

Then thumping and humming together.

“Mason!” I holler.

My door opens, and my seven-year-old brother sticks his head into the room. “What, Jerzey Mae?” he asks. He’s wearing his striped brown shirt, which makes his huge brown eyes look even darker. And his eyelashes are so long they look like giraffe eyelashes. It figures—he gets the long eyelashes, not me or either of my sisters. He dribbles his basketball as he watches me.

I sit up on my elbow and stare at him. “I’m trying to read. Can’t you stop humming and banging that ball around for two seconds?”

He looks at his watch, the big digital one Mom gave him for his last birthday. “Okay.” He stops the humming and the dribbling. Exactly two seconds later, he starts again. “You said two seconds.” He grins.

I jump to my feet and close the door in his face. I hear him laughing, “Hee hee hee!” as he dribbles down the hall. I yank open my dresser drawer and pull out some earplugs—pink, to match my room—and stuff them in my ears.

The door opens. It’s Mason again. He’s saying something.

I point to my earplugs.

He starts yelling so I can hear.

I sigh and pull out the earplugs. “What?”

“Can I use your new pens?”

“Well…” I say. At least it would keep him from thumping for a while.

“Please?” he asks.

“Okay,” I finally say.

A big smile spreads across his face. He heads to my desk, where I keep all my art supplies.

“But there are some rules,” I say.

He stops dead in his tracks. Then he looks over his shoulder at me. “You mean, like the keep-them-lined-up-in-a-row-in-order-by-color rule?”

“Yes,” I reply. “And the put-the-lids-back-on-before-you-put-them-down-even-if-you’re-going-to-use-them-again rule. And the put-them-back-in-the-holder-with-all-the-labels-facing-up rule.”

He backs away from my desk, looking pained. “Why do you have to have all these rules?” he says. “No one has rules for coloring.”

I don’t even know how to answer that. Everyone should have rules for coloring. “Well,” I say, “that way the pens stay perfect. They don’t get dried out like yours do. Besides, don’t you think pens look better all lined up neatly, instead of jumbled everywhere?”

“No,” he says. “I like jumbled.”

“Fine. Then go jumble your basketball, but you’re not jumbling my brand-new pens.”

He sighs deeply and turns to leave. As he does, he accidentally knocks over my pencil-holder, where I had all the pencils neatly arranged by height.

“Mason!” I moan, as the pencils roll across the floor.

“I’ll help, I’ll help,” he says. He starts picking up the pencils and putting them back, some pointing down, some pointing up, until I can’t stand it.

“Never mind! I’ll do it myself,” I say.

He races out the door.

After I pick up all the pencils and rearrange them, I close the door and start to read my book again. It’s the autobiography of Miss Camilla Freeman, a very famous prima ballerina. My friends and I all met her two weeks ago. Our ballet teacher, Ms. Debbé, had a very special pair of toe shoes autographed by Miss Camilla. My friend Brenda borrowed the shoes, although unfortunately Ms. Debbé did not exactly know that Brenda was borrowing them. And also unfortunately, Brenda’s cousin’s dog, Pookiepie, ate the shoes when no one was looking. We all went to see Miss Camilla to ask her for a pair of her toe shoes to replace the ones in Pookiepie’s stomach. Amazingly, everything turned out okay. We even got to have tea with Miss Camilla afterward, which was one of the Most Significant Experiences of my life.

Here is a list of some of the things I admire about Miss Camilla Freeman:

  1. She was the first black ballerina with the Ballet Company of New York.
  2. She was an incredible dancer, even though she is an old lady now.
  3. She is extremely well dressed and elegant.
  4. She is an only child. This means that she does not have a little brother.

Unfortunately, only list item number three is true about me. I am very particular (my sister JoAnn would say “fussy”) about my clothes, and I try to look nice. For instance, right now, even though I am sitting at home, I am wearing a very cute pink top and some jeans that fit me exactly right. As opposed to JoAnn, who always wears slobby old sweatpants and baseball caps, and Jessica, who wears odd combinations of things. That’s because while she is getting dressed, she’s usually thinking about some poem she’s writing instead of paying attention to what she’s doing.

But I will never be list item number one, the first black ballerina with the Ballet Company of New York, because it’s too late. And I will also never be list item number four, an only child, since I am a triplet and I have a little brother.

I would like to be list item number two, an excellent dancer. However, so far I am a dancing disaster.

Jessica is good at ballet. She learns the steps easily. One of her legs is shorter than the other, and she needs to wear a special ballet shoe, but you could never tell by watching her dance. She moves in a dreamy, graceful way, and Ms. Debbé says she is very artistic.

JoAnn is a natural athlete. Even though she’s not crazy about dancing, she’s really good at it. She powers through all the moves. Ms. Debbé keeps reminding her that ballet is an art, not a pole-vaulting contest.

I hate to admit this, even to myself, but I stink at ballet. I mean, really stink. I never move in the right direction. It takes me forever to learn the steps. Then, when I think I’ve learned them, I still mess them up. Even on the rare—very rare—occasions when Ms. Debbé says I’ve done something well, I know that my foot was turned out a little more than it should have been, or that my fingers weren’t extended exactly right. The harder I try, the worse I get. Some kids mess up all the time and don’t seem to notice. I know every single time I make a mistake. It’s very frustrating.

And the worst thing is, I love ballet. I watch ballet DVDs all the time. I would love to be a prima ballerina, like Miss Camilla Freeman. It’s not fair that both my sisters are good at dancing when JoAnn doesn’t even care and Jessica would just as soon be writing poems or taking care of all her animals.

Tomorrow in ballet class, we’re going to find out about the dances for our Thanksgiving recital. If I were a good dancer, I’d be looking forward to this. Instead, I’m dreading it. It’s bad enough being a terrible dancer in ballet class twice a week. Being a terrible dancer up onstage in front of everyone is a total nightmare.

I hear thumping on the door.

“Mason, what is it?” I yell.

The door opens, but Mason isn’t the only one there—Jessica and JoAnn are right behind him. Everyone says we girls all look alike, but if they looked harder, they’d see that we’re very different. JoAnn’s arms and legs are thin and muscular from all the sports she does. Jessica’s body is more rounded, and her eyes are softer.

“We’re going down to play basketball,” JoAnn says. “Wanna come?”

Our house is almost at the end of our block, and there’s a little park with a basketball court right next door. Mason and JoAnn play basketball there a lot, and Jessica goes with them sometimes.

I don’t want to get my clothes dirty. Plus, I don’t know how to play basketball, and I wouldn’t be good at it even if I did know. I’ll look stupid enough in ballet class tomorrow; why start early?

“No, thanks,” I say.

“You should try it just once, Jerzey,” Jessica says. “It’s fun.”

“No, thanks,” I repeat. “I need to read this.”


  • Praise for Plum Fantastic (book #1 in the series):
  • “…an endearing multiethnic cast of characters and a positive message of the power of friendship make this one a keeper.”
     —Kirkus Reviews
  • “….warm, funny and tender.”—Publishers Weekly

On Sale
Sep 20, 2022
Page Count
144 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.

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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.

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