Miss Tutu’s Star

Leslea Newman, Author, Carey Armstrong-Ellis, Illustrator
Lesléa Newman, illus. by Carey Armstrong-Ellis, Abrams, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8109-8396-0
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Selena (“Who did not walk so much as twirl,/ Who did not skip so much as prance”) wants to be a ballerina, but her untidy black hair, round chin, and pudgy tummy are conspicuously unballerinalike. She could have a teacher who is scornful of her dancing dreams, but Miss Tutu is the ballet teacher everyone wishes for, and this is as much her story as it is Selena’s. “What matters most is from the start,/ My dear, you’ve always danced with heart,” she reassures Selena after a fall, holding her close. Selena responds by working hard, not just for one class, but for several years. When Selena finally finishes her starring role in the big recital (which ends in slapstick disaster), Miss Tutu is waiting in the wings: “Selena looked about. ‘What now?’/ Miss Tutu whispered, ‘Take your bow.’ ” Ellis’s (The Twelve Days of Springtime) slightly clunky mixed media cartoons have the same uneasy relationship to Newman’s (Just Like Mama) crisp verse as Selena does to the world of ballet, but they do a good job of portraying Selena’s changing emotions. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
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