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Curtain calls for Ella Bella and the whole troupe.

Lovely little ballerina Ella Bella returns to the stage after charming audiences in performances of Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty.

Ella still attends class with Madame Rosa, whose music box is now playing Tchaikovsky’s beautiful Swan Lake. She and her classmates, including one boy, listen to the story and pretend that they are baby swans as they move to the music. When class is over, Ella stays on stage and in her imagination becomes part of the drama as dancers perform the ballet. A prince has fallen in love with an enchanted Swan Princess named Odette, but he is tricked by an evil sorcerer into declaring his love for her look-alike, Odile. Ella Bella tries to warn him of the duplicity, but to no avail. However, in this version, all ends happily for the royalty. Ella Bella leaves the theater and dances home with her mother—hopefully to return to the stage in another ballet. As in Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella (2009) and Ella Bella Ballerina and The Sleeping Beauty (2008)Mayhew’s simple storytelling and delicate watercolors in blues, pinks and lilacs meld together to tell the tale of the much-beloved ballet and evoke its timeless mystery and ethereal qualities for young audiences.

Curtain calls for Ella Bella and the whole troupe.   (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7641-6407-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A muddled message shoots for the moon but never quite gets all the way off the ground.

A little mouse experiences BIG changes thanks to a spectacular talent.

Dee’s a singer to her core. She croons absolutely everywhere, so when her teacher Miss Pink suggests that her students bring in something that symbolizes what they enjoy doing, Dee brings in a song. As she sings it, however, her joy causes her to physically grow huge! At first this makes her feel special, but as the day goes on she feels lonely and out of place. Shrinking back to her normal size, she worries that this means she can never sing again. But thanks to the encouragement of her mother and little sister, she realizes that being special is nothing to be ashamed of. However, though her classmates have skills of their own, only Dee changes, indicating that some talents are more transformative than others. After all, while everyone is enthralled by Dee, Ren the turtle’s talent for drawing a replica of a space station is something he “made everyone watch.” The true standout in this show comes from Sinquett’s dynamic art, capable of encompassing the emotional highs and lows of elementary school kids. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A muddled message shoots for the moon but never quite gets all the way off the ground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-368-07806-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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