A sentimental but deftly crafted story about the gifted ward of the overworked wardrobe mistress (""Auntie"") for a small but legendary ballet troupe, with one transparently contrived coincidence and a tidy, credulity-straining conclusion. Lottie (ten) wins a prestigious ballet school's competition, reluctantly giving up ""Prince,"" the puppy that has just come into her love-starved life, in order to attend; while Lottie copes with the ups and downs of new friendships and begins to excel, Auntie and the father of the troubled little rich girl to whom Lottie has given Prince fall in love and marry. The outline may be trite, but Godden is still a real pro. Her sympathetic characterizations are cunningly built of peccadillos, revealing responses to various stresses and moral dilemmas, and heartwarming and/or satirical details; there are also enough well-integrated dance details to satisfy the most avid fans. In the end, Lottie's first starring role--as the Infanta in a dance/pantomime based on VelÃ¡squez's paintings--doesn't draw deeply on her talent, but her charming, impeccable style shines through. As much could be said of the author's likable performance here.