A fluffy read for kids who like dance in theory, not in practice.



From the Katarina Ballerina series , Vol. 1

Can a self-taught dancer make it big in the world of ballet?

Katarina dreams of being a ballerina, but lessons are expensive, so she’s been teaching herself via the internet. Then at the school talent show her dad sees her passion and finally agrees to pay for lessons. Katarina’s first class is difficult and embarrassing, but with the help of a new best friend and encouragement from principal New York City Ballet dancer Tiler Peck (acting as character), Katarina might be able to dance her way to her dream. An endless stream of inspirationally flat dialogue and narration fill the short chapters of this quick read co-written by real-life ballerina Peck and actor Harris. A charming concept gives way to pandering wish fulfillment that may satisfy only readers who don’t know anything about formal dance class, as the passages about ballet are less than believable. Readers should go to either Noel Streatfield’s classic Ballet Shoes (1936) or Maddie Ziegler’s contemporary The Audition (2017) for a more realistic look at dance. The cover depicts Katarina with light brown skin and light brown curls, but Collina’s black-and-white drawings and the lack of any specific racial or cultural details in the text points to an assumed white protagonist with unruly curls. Some supporting characters have diverse names or appearances.

A fluffy read for kids who like dance in theory, not in practice. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5276-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A solid purchase for those seeking fresh tales with a classic feel or a broader world-lit collection.


Can a cat and a dog be best friends? Purdy and Barker make it work.

The duo lives in a sky-blue house on top of a hill near their friends Henny Cluckington, Daisy Butterfield, and Connie Quackstrom, among others. Purdy’s a free spirit always in search of something new and coming up with schemes, while Barker is a no-nonsense pooch who enjoys the simple pleasures of gardening, working around the house, and doing nice things for his best friend. When Purdy decides he’s a great singer and practices—ear-splittingly—all day long, Barker, true friend, encourages him. When Purdy’s yowl at the talent contest scares away the audience, Barker, the contest judge, sticks it out (though he does not award his bestie the prize). When Barker’s prize tomato goes missing, Purdy’s thoughtlessness causes a great tomato fight…but they end up making delicious tomato sauce and having friends over for dinner. Through a year of adventures (and some disagreements), this unlikely pair remains the best of friends. Finn Parvela tells 20 stories in 20 chapters in wry, straightforward prose translated by Urbom. Complex characters, by turns witty and foolish, will charm readers and listeners alike; Talvitie’s smudgy-lined full-color illustrations complete the package.

A solid purchase for those seeking fresh tales with a classic feel or a broader world-lit collection. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-776570-31-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A rare glimpse of childhood in a vanished world: Soviet-dominated, rural Poland.


Vacationing children endure a thunderstorm in a dark forest, lose and find one another, and join an assortment of characters seeking the mysterious Clementine, who’s vanished in the woods.

After smuggling Macadamia, the small girl who lost Clementine, into their room, Mark, Annie, and Pudding head into the night. Soon fellow vacationers Eddie and Freddie, whom Mark has enlisted to stay with Macadamia, answer the call to adventure. Nearby, while his policeman dad alerts Constable Podger to the missing Clementine, Teddy—a Sherlock Holmes fan—sneaks out with his dog, Pickles, to search. As the thunderstorm reaches the woods, a tired journalist on his way to visit a friend suffers car trouble; the children are separated; and a falling tree mangles Podger’s motorbike. Throughout the ensuing muddy mayhem, Clementine proves elusive. Originally published in 1970 in Poland, the story shows its age, and the translators’ awkward efforts to update the dialogue don’t help. Children play “Red Indians,” and chubby Derek’s known as “Pudding” in this very English-feeling translation. Still, on balance strengths outweigh weaknesses. Butenko’s playful, humorous illustrations reflect Poland’s tradition of outstanding art for children. The setting is another highlight. The forest’s enduring majesty looms in powerful contrast over the scurrying characters engrossed in their worries and plans. The village of Saint Jude’s—where shoes are for indoors, kids adore mushrooms, and dessert’s a once-a-week treat—will feel exotic to young American readers.

A rare glimpse of childhood in a vanished world: Soviet-dominated, rural Poland. (Historical fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78269-118-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Pushkin Press

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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