VAMPIRINA BALLERINA

Readers will applaud this elegantly designed, well-told story. Brava, indeed.

Pace and Pham have choreographed a delightful tale of a winsome young vampire trying to make her ballerina dreams come true.

The deadpan text includes plenty of good advice for anyone with dancing aspirations: “Always drink plenty of water and eat healthy meals…get a good day’s sleep…move with your head held high,” and “Practice! Practice! PRACTICE!” But this vampire differs quite a bit from her fellow dance students, with her black leotard and winged cape, her pointy fangs and her ability to “poof” into a bat at the most inopportune moment. Not only does she not fit in, but she also frightens her classmates and alarms Madame with the absence of her reflection in the studio mirror. As the evening of her big debut nears, the vampirina’s supportive family rallies around her and creates a beautiful costume of spider lace and swan feathers. Then “the lights dim… / the music swells, / and the curtain opens”—as does a dramatic double gatefold to reveal the five dancers executing an exuberant performance. The pen-and-ink–and-watercolor illustrations paint a cozy blue-gray world for the vampires’ home, contrasting with the brighter, lighter dance school portrayed in pinks. Deft strokes capture facial expressions that reveal nervousness, effort, fear, surprise, confidence and joy. By the show’s end, the prima vampire has exceeded everyone’s expectations, including her own.

Readers will applaud this elegantly designed, well-told story. Brava, indeed. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5753-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

LITTLE RED SLEIGH

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

LLAMA LLAMA'S LITTLE LIE

A spot-on series installment that imparts a valuable lesson on the importance of honesty.

Will Llama Llama come clean after breaking one of Mama’s prized possessions?

While Mama Llama gardens outdoors, Llama Llama and a friend who appears to be a young goat play inside. Their boisterous activities include pillow fighting, running up the stairs and sliding down the bannister, swinging from lamps, and jumping on the sofa—fun that is possible “Only when Mama is not there.” They move on to playing catch: Llama Llama throws vigorously, and the ball shatters Mama’s favorite picture frame. Uh-oh. What to do? The pair consider running to Kalamazoo. When Mama returns, Llama Llama first blames the wind, then a dinosaur, then a meteorite. Mama doubts these possibilities, and Llama Llama cries but admits to the lie. Mama praises his courage, and the three of them repair the frame. Later, throwing a pass outside, Mama breaks a window herself! With humor and sympathy, this tale brings to life a very common experience that will resonate with preschoolers. Mama reacts with model parenting, and Llama Llama quickly accepts the blame and the necessity of truth-telling. Morrow’s illustrations add both drama and a reassuring note. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A spot-on series installment that imparts a valuable lesson on the importance of honesty. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2023

ISBN: 9780593352489

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

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