Tori Baylor is a dancer and an animal lover. Or is she an animal lover and a dancer? On the first day of school, she discovers that her class will dissect a frog this year, and she gathers her courage to tell the forbidding Mrs. Stengle she doesn’t want to take part. The new science teacher’s rudeness comes as a shock, and Tori wishes she had a close friend to laugh it off with. Dance classes six days a week, however, leave little time for friends.
Tori wonders if she should forget her dream of a ballet career and plan to work with animals instead. Her mother’s arthritis is worsening, and Tori feels guilty seeing her limp off to work to pay for her lessons. She’d love to be an animal rights activist, if she could be brave enough. But not to dance—how could I bear it? she asks herself. Her mother, who once hoped to become a dancer, has always told Tori and her sister, “Be sure to have a second string to your bow,” meaning a second career choice. I do have two strings, Tori thinks, dance and animals. But which should be my first-string future?