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DEER DANCER by Mary Lyn Ray Kirkus Star


by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Lauren Stringer

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: May 6th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4424-3421-9
Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

A young ballerina finds her muse in a woodland creature.

A raven-haired, unconventionally dressed young girl has a secret place in a forest clearing where she practices the steps that she is learning in ballet class. Then one day a buck shows his face, and the two stare intently at each other in complete silence. When she is back in class, she wonders if her teacher has also seen that deer, as she tells her class to “Hold your head as if you’re wearing antlers.” The young girl struggles with her steps and positions, so she returns to her hideaway. So does the deer, and with a great smile on her face, the girl feels “[A] song to dance”—and maybe the deer does, too. Ray’s brief text lyrically sings of the beauties of dance and nature. Stringer’s lush acrylic paintings depict the forest in sumptuous shades of sunshine yellow and emerald green, the girl and deer each captured in swirling scenes of graceful movement. Vignettes in the ballet studio, painted against a white background, skillfully show young students intently practicing. How wonderful to connect the structured world of ballet with the free-form world of an animal at play.

An ode to joyous dance. (Picture book. 4-7)