Splashdance

Liz Starin. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-374-30098-2
What starts as a loopy tale about an interspecies water ballet competition gradually reveals itself to be a call for solidarity and resistance in the face of injustice. Ursula, a polar bear, and her partner Ricardo, a human, have “trained and trained” to win the water ballet championship and its $1 million prize. But when the swimming pool suddenly banishes bears for being “too hairy,” Ricardo unceremoniously dumps Ursula for a giraffe. Despondent at first (she “cried for a week” under her kitchen table), Ursula joins forces with a new multispecies group that stands by its bear members. With a little subterfuge, they win the biggest prize of all: reopening the swimming pool to everyone. Whether the action is underwater or on dry land, Starin (Roar!) has a loose, offhand style and gentle wit that invite readers to dive headfirst into a world where rhinos wear bikinis and water ballet moves include the “Mary Lou Boogaloo” and “Half Twist Chanterelle.” Ursula, with her ability to turn personal betrayal into collective triumph, may remind adult readers of the heroines of ShondaLand. Ages 4–7. Agent: Jennifer Mattson, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/21/2016
Release date: 06/21/2016
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