Kirkus Reviews QR Code
NOT JUST TUTUS by Rachel Isadora


by Rachel Isadora & illustrated by Rachel Isadora

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-399-23603-1
Publisher: Putnam

Isadora (Peekaboo Morning, 2002, etc.) calls on her experience as a professional ballet dancer in this lighthearted look at the backstage world of a children’s ballet school. She divides her text into two sections: “Dreams and Practice” and “Makeup and Lights,” with each page containing two rhyming couplets and a related illustration, all printed on attractive beige paper. Young children (both boys and girls, age six to nine) who are fairly experienced dancers are shown dreaming about ballet, going to class, stretching, learning new movements, and then preparing backstage and performing. They also experience some of the difficulties of the dance world: body image, costumes that don’t fit, not being able to eat or drink while backstage, stage fright, and sore feet. Some adult readers will note that several of the children shown dancing in pointe shoes are clearly too young to be dancing on pointe, reinforcing that unrealistic expectation of little girls who can’t wait to be dancing on their toes. Isadora’s delicate watercolor-and-ink illustrations have the polish of a practiced professional, effectively showing the little dancers in motion or at rest. Her rhymes are sometimes funny or charming, but often don’t scan well or contain word pairs that really don’t rhyme (“sore” and “sure”). The illustrations dance, but the text remains pedestrian. (Picture book. 4-7)