cover image Brontorina


James Howe, illus. by Randy Cecil, Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4437-6

Howe (Bunnicula) pens a humorous and inspiring tale about a big dinosaur with a big dream: "[I]n my heart," Brontorina says, "I am a ballerina." Thoughtful, white-haired instructor Madame Lucille is willing to give it a try. A rocky transition period (the studio's ceiling takes a lot of punishment) is at last resolved when Madame Lucille moves her classes outdoors, with the promise that Brontorina's struggle will open up the world of ballet to still more candidates—the studio's new sign reads, "Madame Lucille's Outdoor Dance Academy for Girls and Boys and Dinosaurs and Cows." The final page shows a triceratops holding Brontorina high, a silent retort to Madame Lucille's earlier despairing wail: "And how in the world will a male dancer ever lift you over his head?" Cecil (Gator) contributes oil paintings whose simple forms are balanced by sophisticated textures and restrained colors, while he has fun punching up the contrast between the massive Brontorina and her tiny classmates. Meanwhile, asides from the kids provide a string of giggles. It's a satisfying story that adheres closely to its central message about overcoming obstacles. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)