Perseverance and determination help a little girl take part in her school’s ballet performance.
Lena, who has short, straight brown hair and wears a school uniform, is so very excited to be dancing in a student recital. She will join the others as a daffodil. Unfortunately, material for the costume is hard to find in her town, and Lena has outgrown last year’s. There are lines at the stores for everything, including milk. Happily, she and her mother do find the almost right fabric, but all the white ballet slippers are sold out. Lena is upset, but with a little help from her unsuspecting father, who is a painter, she comes up with a perfect if not long-lasting solution. The performance wows the audience. Hobai, debuting as an author, grew up in Romania and has set her little story in an unnamed country with strict rules, often bare shelves, and a seemingly all-white citizenry. Her ink, watercolor, and acrylic illustrations deftly convey Lena’s many facial expressions, from worry to joy, and their fluid lines are the right touch to portray little dancers. Adults sharing this book with children may need to provide a little background information about Communist-era Eastern Europe, but many children today will understand the economic hardships faced regardless.
Ballet lovers will feel a strong kinship with this aspiring ballerina. (author’s note, photograph) (Picture book. 4-7)