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A strong instructional guide for young dancers.

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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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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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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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