A tender story that teaches young readers that ballet isn’t just about performing—it’s also about relationships

READ REVIEW

DEAR BALLERINA

For those who are starting to dream of pirouettes and pointe shoes.

In this epistolary picture book from “Little Dancer” to “Ballerina,” who responds, this young, admiring protagonist describes what she likes about ballet: tiptoeing in ballet slippers, bending and stretching, jumping and turning. Little Dancer describes how she prepares for a performance, works hard in rehearsals, enjoys getting fitted for her tutu, and delights in wearing stage makeup. Little Dancer also loves seeing Ballerina’s name sewn into her tutu; it was once Ballerina’s. Awaiting her turn to perform, Little Dancer watches Ballerina from the wings as Ballerina dances with a male lead before an eager audience. When she finally gets her turn on stage with Ballerina, Little Dancer “dream[s] of being an amazing ballerina” too. Backgrounds awash in pastel pinks, yellows, greens, and purples create a joyous mood, and the thin, sans-serif type compliments the elegance of this art form. Text and illustrations in the backmatter explain some of the accoutrements of ballet, such as needle and thread, leg warmers, and a leotard. Although the illustrations depict both Little Dancer and Ballerina with light-brown skin and show a multicultural cast of little ballerinas—both male and female—with different skin and eye colors, their uniformly round heads and body types somewhat detract from the message that ballet is truly inclusive.

A tender story that teaches young readers that ballet isn’t just about performing—it’s also about relationships .(Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3932-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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