A pink cat and a polka-dot horse join together in a light story of secrets and friendship.
Ballet Cat and Sparkles the horse want to find something to do. At each page turn, Sparkles comes up with an idea that is quickly shot down by Ballet Cat, a dance-obsessed Debbie Downer, for whom ballet is all. Crafts? They can’t leap with scissors. Checkers? Their kicks would knock over the board. Sell lemonade? It would splash when they spun. When Sparkles suggests they might do something other than spin, Ballet Cat shoots that down, and Sparkles realizes they are going to play ballet. Again. With half-closed eyes and a resigned attitude, Sparkles plays ballet with reluctance. He ’fesses up his painful secret, “Sometimes I don’t want to play ballet.” With speech bubbles, deft cartoon strokes, and emotional close-ups, Shea lets young readers easily decode both the illustrations and the text. Though the mood is light, the reality—one friend calling all the shots—is not. Using easy words to set up a common situation, Shea dips his toes into the early-reader pool. The marriage of amusing story and expressive illustrations makes this one that new readers will enjoy over and over.
Here’s hoping that Ballet Cat and Sparkles return soon to help new readers learn about friendship. This series will not be a secret for long. (Early reader. 4-8)