A flop.

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LITTLE FINGERS BALLET

Children are invited to play by slipping pink or blue-and-white tights on their fingers, putting them through die-cut holes in either or both of the female and male leads, and dancing to scenes from six ballet classics.

Each ballet is represented by one double-page spread. Coppélia (incorrectly spelled “Coppèlia”), the titular doll, dances for Dr. Coppelius. Cinderella and her prince perform steps at a ball. Solor flies high in La Bayadère. The Snow Queen pirouettes for the King. Romeo and Juliette turn and step, and, finally, a swan dances for a prince. The ballets are not named, and while Cinderella and an enchanted swan may be familiar to very young readers, La Bayadère, a Russian ballet set in India, Romeo and Juliette, based on the Shakespeare play about doomed lovers, and The Snow Queen, based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale, most likely are not. All the dancers—some white and some brown-skinned—are round-faced with big eyes and blushing cheeks. It is not clear what the suggested activity can actually accomplish without any accompanying music or background information on the ballets. The steps that appear in the text in boldface (“relevés,” “battements,” “attitude turn,” etc.) are not explained and are difficult if not impossible to mimic using fingers. Furthermore, in addition to the occasional typo, there is a maddening plot mistake in the brief text: It is not the “lead swan,” Odette, who performs the 32 “fouettés” in Swan Lake; it is the Black Swan.

A flop. (Novelty board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64170-155-6

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Familius

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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A quiet book about making a giant leap.

LOTTIE & WALTER

Lottie knows something no one else knows. Her mother and brother don’t know. Her swimming instructor does not know, and the other children in swim class certainly don’t know.

There is a shark that lives in the pool. It wants to eat Lottie—only Lottie—and Lottie is not going to let it get anywhere near her. Most children have had moments when they’ve sat on the sidelines watching others laugh and play because they were too scared to just dive in, and that is precisely where Lottie finds herself. Lucky for her, Walter shows up just in time. He sings, they read books, play in bubbles, and even share the same favorite food. But when it comes time for Lottie to face her fears, can Walter truly help? Walter, as readers and Lottie see but her family may not, is an enormous walrus. Walker’s soft and appropriately watery illustrations complement and extend her whimsical text, lending a dreamlike feel to the story. Readers will discern the shadowy, predatory shape of the shark below the surface of the water even as Lottie’s classmates splash and play, and they will sympathize, and they will giggle at the depictions of Walter’s huge bulk in Lottie’s tidy urban home while believing that Walter will protect her. Lottie, her mother, and her brother have light-brown skin and black hair.

A quiet book about making a giant leap. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-47038-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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