cover image Little Ballerina and Her Dancing Horse,

Little Ballerina and Her Dancing Horse,

Gelsey Kirkland. Doubleday Books, $14.95 (120pp) ISBN 978-0-385-46978-4

Former ballerina Kirkland and husband Lawrence stumble in their first book for children. Eleven-year-old Rosie officiates in a gosh-golly-gee narration: ``I'd better tell you the reader about my diary. . . . I never show it to anybody except Sugar, my horse. But Sugar's my best friend in the whole world. I'd better explain about him too.'' Rosie lives on a farm (although somehow she never seems to do any chores except those involving Sugar), writes poems to Sugar and wants to become a ballerina. Luckily, her tiny rural town does have a ballet studio large enough to stage the Nutcracker as well as a dancers' shop run by a former ballerina. But all is not roses: the ballet teacher decrees that her promising pupil give up horseback riding lest her leg muscles develop improperly. After much fretting and versifying (``but believe me, Sugar, / I am not an old rat!''), sage elders suggest the girl ride sidesaddle. With this cotton-candy offering, Kirkland and Lawrence badly underestimate their readers' intelligence. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (Nov.)