Dani Noir

Dani Noir

For Ages: 9 - 14
If this were a movie, you'd open to the first page of this book and be transported to a whole other world. Everything would be in black and white, except maybe for the girl in pink polka-dot tights, and this really great music would start to swell in the background. All of a sudden, you wouldn't be able to help it -- you'd be a part of the story, you'd be totally sucked in. You'd be in this place, filled with big lies, mysterious secrets, and a tween girl turned sleuth....

Zoom in on thirteen-year-old Dani Callanzano. It's the summer before eighth grade, and Dani is stuck in her nothing-ever-happens town with only her favorite noir mysteries at the Little Art movie theater to keep her company.

But one day, a real-life mystery begins to unravel -- at the Little Art! And it all has something to do with a girl in polka-dot tights.... Armed with a vivid imagination, a flair for the dramatic, and her knowledge of all things Rita Hayworth, Dani sets out to solve the mystery, and she learns more about herself than she ever though she could.
Choose a format:
  • Aladdin | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416975649 | 
  • September 2009 | 
  • Grades 4 - 9 | 
  • Lexile 660
List Price $15.99

Read an Excerpt

What Would Rita Hayworth Do?

A slow fade-in on my life:

There’s this little mountain town, smack between two long highways that go nowhere in either direction. There’s the one supermarket, the one movie theater, the one Chinese restaurant. But there are twelve different places to buy junk for your lawn.

It’s summer so the days are longer than you can stand. If you want air-conditioning, walk to the convenience store on the corner and take your time searching for an ice pop.

There’s this girl. She’s thirteen, but if I say she’s going on fourteen it... see more

About the Author

Nova Ren Suma
Photo by Erik Ryerson

Nova Ren Suma

Nova Ren Suma was a fellow in fiction with the New York Foundation for the Arts and received an MFA in fiction from Columbia University. She is the author of Imaginary Girls and she lives in New York. Find out more at novaren.com or follow her on Twitter at @novaren.


Author Revealed

Nova Ren Suma
Q. how did you come to write Dani Noir?

A. At the start of DANI NOIR, the narrator, Dani, is stuck in her middle-of-nowhere town, her only escape the old black-and-white movies she discovers at the local theater. Dani falls for film noir just the way I did: when she first sees Rita Hayworth starring as the femme fatale in a classic noir movie called Gilda. This was also the moment that the writing of DANI NOIR clicked for me—when I saw Gilda for the first time. The eye-opening scene is just as Dani describes: Rita Hayworth enters the room and nothing is as it was before.

I’ve done work-for-hire writing and ghostwriting for tweens and young adults before, but this novel was my chance to write in my own voice for the first time, to not have an assignment or a set of characters dictated to write about. Before this, my own original writing was always intended for adults. And yet, weirdly enough, I mostly wrote from the perspectives of teenagers: 14-year-old, 17-year-old, 13-year-old girls—so I see now that writing a novel for tweens was inevitable. Dani's voice poured out of me: She started on the rooftop of her house, surrounded on all sides by an endless sea of trees, just like places I lived at that age, and she came alive from there. I began to watch films the way Dani would see them. I began to picture Rita Hayworth as Dani might. And my imagination went wild from there. How would Dani imagine her life to be different if she were someone spectacular, someone who doesn’t listen to anyone, a femme fatale... just like Rita Hayworth? Once you can hear a character’s voice in your head, once you can SEE her, she’s not going to let you alone until you put her story down. Dani did that to me.

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