TIME FOR BALLET

Adele Geras, Author, Shelagh McNicholas, Illustrator , illus. by Shelagh McNicholas. Dial $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8037-2978-0

Rachel Isadora's Lili books describe professional ballet training, and Katharine Holabird's Angelina Ballerina series provide snapshots of a mouse star in the making; but this accessible title offers a view of ballet school more in line with ordinary kids' experiences. Every Tuesday, seven children—six girls and one boy—gather for their ballet lesson under the tutelage of the energetic and patient Miss Anne. Class is one exciting learning experience after another: "We do leg bends and jumps next," explains Tilly, the narrator, as she and classmates earnestly work their doughy bodies. "Miss Anne calls them pliés and jetés. That's leg bends and jumps in French." Then comes the big recital—a triumph for Tilly, who overcomes a tummy "full of butterflies" to shine as a dancing cat ("When the show is over, everyone claps very loudly and we do our best curtsies and bows"). Geras (The Magic of the Ballet: Giselle ) breaks the story into bite-size parts and shows a keen understanding for how a young storyteller would pick and choose her details. ("Ballet clothes aren't very easy to get into," says Tilly as she struggles with her leotard.) McNicholas's (the Animals in the Ark series) watercolors revel in the gentle chaos and unfettered joy of creative endeavor; the studio's expansive, sunlit floor and long white walls reverberate with fun and possibilities. Ages 2-up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/01/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
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