A magical mystery tour for ballet lovers.

It is a busy day for a ballerina.

Iris begins her day at 8:00 a.m. eating breakfast, packing her bag, and setting off for the theater. She changes into practice clothes at 10:05 and takes class with the company. Rehearsal for a new ballet begins at 12:00, followed by a break two hours later, and then it is back to the theater at 3:30 for a costume fitting. More rehearsal, another break, makeup at 6:30, more barre to warm up the muscles, and finally at 8:00 p.m. the curtain comes up on a beautiful production filled with music, costume, scenery, and lights. All in all, it is a good and typically full day for a dancer. Kent, who previously wrote Ballerina Swan, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully (2012), here focuses her experienced eye on the daily activities of a prima ballerina. There’s a breathless quality to her writing, which is packed with details that will enchant readers who dance. Bold typeface for the time emphasizes important events without interrupting the narrative flow. Stock’s fluid ink-and-watercolor illustrations provide very charming and lively details that spotlight Iris’ movements. Double-page spreads allow readers to experience the mysteries of backstage preparation and then enjoy a front-row seat for the magic of live theater. Iris is white, but the company has some dancers of color, reflecting current ballet demographics.

A magical mystery tour for ballet lovers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3563-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015


While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016


Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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