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A flop.

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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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

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. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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Leave this on the shelf and take the kids outside to really move.

An interactive board book promises a variety of experiences.

A book that gets kids up and moving sounds like a great idea. The half-circle cutout of the spine and large handle formed by another die cut on the right side are intriguing. Unfortunately, the rhyming instructions for using the book as an exercise prop are confusing. Even adults will find themselves puzzled when told to “paddle the floor,” or to “hang on the handles. Step over the book. / You're a turtle in its shell! Go peek out and look.” The busy pictures shift perspective according to each scenario presented but give few visual clues. For example, the only hint of a dinosaur on the page where readers are told to “put this book to your mouth and let out a roar” like a dinosaur are the teeth that line the edges of what is meant to be a gaping maw. It’s not always obvious whether the book is meant to be facing readers or turned away from them, adding another layer of confusion. Furthermore, many of the instructions run counter to how young children are typically taught to treat books, as when they are told to step on it and then waddle or to lift it with their feet. The relatively thin board pages and weak handles will soon be torn by normal handling; following the directions in the text will only hasten the destruction.

Leave this on the shelf and take the kids outside to really move. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7611-8733-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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