cover image Lili at Ballet

Lili at Ballet

Rachel Isadora. Putnam Publishing Group, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22423-2

Who can resist a peek at young artists in training? Isadora gifts her heroine, Lily, with a quintessential combination of dreams and determination, then allows us to sit in on the ballet class that Lili attends four times a week. Lili and fellow students model their dance wardrobes, demonstrate their exercises and steps, and imagine themselves dancing celebrated roles in a number of ballets. Each new element, be it a practice tutu, one of the five basic positions or a movement like a passe en pointe, receives its own illustration and is captioned in unornamented cursive script. Budding balletomanes will especially enjoy the detailed discussion of the ever-wondrous pointe shoe; another welcome section focuses on a class just for boys. Two depictions of full-scale ballet productions expand to fill entire spreads with dramatic color; as if to distinguish theatrical illusion from the arduous work behind the scenes, the rest of the book is rendered in pale washes. A former dancer whose daughter is enrolled at New York City's prestigious School of the American Ballet, Isadora presents ballet with familiarity and respect--she romanticizes neither the suffering nor the glory, and emphasizes only Lily's dedication. Brava! Ages 4-8. (Feb.)