Welcome to Ballet School

Ashley Bouder, illus. by Julia Bereciartu. Frances Lincoln, $19.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-71125-128-1
Bouder, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, offers a kid-friendly introduction to ballet in this simplistic depiction of five children’s first experiences of class. “No matter what you look like, ballet is for everyone” Bouder announces in an introductory note; though the mixed-gender group appears culturally and ethnically diverse, no other differences are apparent. Gouache and colored pencil cartoon illustrations by Bereciartu (High-Five to the Hero) enhance the book’s welcoming tone as a kindly teacher (who outdatedly addresses the school-age children as “little ones”) shepherds them quickly from warm-ups and the five basic positions to arabesques and pirouettes to performing a classical ballet. Exceptionally helpful for beginners, close-up diagrams show ballet’s five positions (separate spreads cover arms and legs) and detail each stage of the legs’ movements in traditional ballet steps (plié, tendu, etc.). Bouder strikes several personal notes, for example appearing as the ballerina-mother of a student who bears her own daughter’s name, guiding the classmates through a performance of Sleeping Beauty. Though readers won’t take away a sense of ballet’s rigor or artistic resonance (these dancers choose what to wear, what positions to try, and which roles they want to enact), the book is a useful and appealing primer for those with little to no experience in the ballet studio. A glossary and ethnically inclusive gallery of important dancers concludes. Ages 4–7. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/25/2020
Release date: 08/01/2020
Genre: Children's
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