A strong instructional guide for young dancers.



Konora, Terrel, and Mongodi, the team behind the Once Upon a Dance books, launch a series of illustrated how-to chapter books for kids.

This book introduces the idea of the “dance stance”—a way to stand that becomes the launching pad for all movement in ballet. The authors ably describe the visualizations one needs to form the correct posture, including weight distribution and positioning. The idea that simply standing can be hard work is introduced with a sense of encouragement: “that means you were working your muscles in a new way.” From the beginning stance, the authors introduce turning out with toe rotation into first position, shifting balance to prepare to lift one leg, and assuming relevé, or tiptoe, positions. The chapters end with more personal notes from Konora, such as an acknowledgement that ballet can be overwhelming at first but that hard work and practice makes things easier. Interspersed between the dance instructions are accounts drawn from Konora’s personal experiences; some showcase ideas about dance and stillness, and others offer helpful practice tips or notes on how good posture can serve a dancer beyond ballet. The authors use accessible vocabulary in a conversational manner, as if one is receiving instruction from a good friend. Mongodi’s realistic full-color illustrations picture the adult Konora as a girl, which may give young readers a greater feeling of kinship with her. The character’s adorable, tutu-wearing feline companion, Kittina, is a furry attention-grabber, performing ballet antics on nearly every page. The balanced use of illustrations and text keeps the content from ever feeling intimidating, and the straightforward instructions make it easy to try the postures. The authors also helpfully encourage readers to find a healthy balance between dance and other activities. The book is most suitable for those who already have some knowledge of dance, but it also offers tips that beginners may find useful.

A strong instructional guide for young dancers.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-955555-24-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Once Upon A Dance

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited.


Dancing is one of the most universal elements of cultures the world over.

In onomatopoeic, rhyming text, Bolling encourages readers to dance in styles including folk dance, classical ballet, breakdancing, and line dancing. Read aloud, the zippy text will engage young children: “Tappity Tap / Fingers Snap,” reads the rhyme on the double-page spread for flamenco; “Jiggity-Jig / Zig-zag-zig” describes Irish step dancing. The ballet pages stereotypically include only children in dresses or tutus, but one of these dancers wears hijab. Overall, children included are racially diverse and vary in gender presentation. Diaz’s illustrations show her background in animated films; her active child dancers generally have the large-eyed sameness of cartoon characters. The endpapers, with shoes and musical instruments, could become a matching game with pages in the book. The dances depicted are described at the end, including kathak from India and kuku from Guinea, West Africa. Unfortunately, these explanations are quite rudimentary. Kathak dancers use their facial expressions extensively in addition to the “movements of their hands and their jingling feet,” as described in the book. Although today kuku is danced at all types of celebrations in several countries, it was once done after fishing, an activity acknowledged in the illustrations but not mentioned in the explanatory text.

The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-142-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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