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 a more personal note from Konora, such as 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

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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. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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


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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