The many enchanting elements of dance and story in The Sleeping Beauty ballet come alive for young children.

BALLET SCHOOL

Read! Practice! Perform!

Three girls (Amirah, Violet, and Sahani) and two boys (Joonwon and Alejandro) take ballet class. They clearly demonstrate warm-up moves, basic feet and arm positions executed at the barre, and center-floor movements including jumps. Their facial expressions vary from happy to fretful. When they have performed their “reverence,” or bows, they are ready to move on to a performance of The Sleeping Beauty, a popular story ballet danced to a beautiful score by Tchaikovsky. Violet’s mom, a former dancer, enters to tell the children the story, and they act out the various roles, from the elegant Lilac Fairy to the evil Carabosse. Each role involves steps that they previously learned and very expressive facial and body emoting. Bouder is a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and writes with enthusiasm and knowledge. The uncluttered cartoon illustrations are lively and colorfully detailed, depicting a multiracial cast (as hinted at by the children’s names). That Violet and her ex-professional mom are white somewhat undermines the egalitarian message. While it may prove challenging for readers to actually try the steps on their own, especially the jumps, they should enjoy practicing. When readers play the score (not included but readily available) in the background, correct ballet movement or simply expressive individual movements can result in a very enjoyable staging.

The many enchanting elements of dance and story in The Sleeping Beauty ballet come alive for young children. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5128-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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LONG-ARMED LUDY AND THE FIRST WOMEN'S OLYMPICS

The true story of an exceptional athlete and a unique competition.

Active from an early age, Lucile “Ludy” Godbold runs and swings from tree branches and plays tug of war with her dogs. “Six feet tall and skinnier than a Carolina pine,” the young white woman enters Winthrop College in 1918. Always on an athletic field, she uses her extra-long arms to cheer on teammates. In her last year on the track team, she tries the shot put, setting a record at over 35 feet. Ludy and her coach immediately hop on a train to New York, where tryouts are being held for a new international meet called the Women’s Olympics, an independent competition. In Ludy’s tryout, she breaks her own record and earns her spot, though she fears that lack of funds will keep her home. But one day, the college president intercepts her as she’s running by and tells her that the students and faculty have raised what’s necessary to send her to France, where this new competition’s being held—and where she clobbers her own previous world record. Who knew? Patrick’s folksy account is crisp and packed with facts. Gustavson’s evocative illustrations combine oil paintings with gouache on watercolor paper, painting Ludy as a gangly beanpole with an enormously expressive face. Backmatter includes more on Ludy’s life and the Women’s Olympics as well as period photos.

Fascinating. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-546-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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