cover image BALLERINA BEAR


Shana Corey, , illus. by Pamela Paparone. . Random, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-375-81416-7

Bernice the bear cub embraces Terpsichore as her muse and ballet as her absolutely favorite form of dance. Unfortunately, she also has two left feet. "Whenever she twirled, she tumbled," writes Corey (You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer!), "Whenever she leaped, she landed in a lump." Then Bernice finds the perfect partner in Bertram, a young danseur whose technique is mind-numbingly perfect ("Whenever Bertram danced, people fell asleep")—Paparone (The Little School Bus, reviewed May 13) shows that even the rehearsal pianist conks out on the keys in Bertram's presence. The two agree to act as foils for one another and become the stars of the ballet school rehearsal: "Bertram leaped. Bernice lumped. Bertram twirled. Bernice tumbled. The audience went wild." But readers may be left with more mixed emotions. Bernice never exudes the kind of bravado that makes for a comically memorable diva/devotee, perhaps because Corey's arch text and Paparone's softly jewel-toned, childlike artwork seem emotionally out of sync. The premise is sophisticated. Achieving mastery in physical coordination is a big deal to this age group, and children may not grasp the concept that Bertram's technical mastery could result in a soulless performance. Ages 2-6. (Aug.)