cover image Bea at Ballet

Bea at Ballet

Rachel Isadora. Penguin/Paulsen, $12.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-25409-3

As she did in Lili at Ballet (1993), Isadora presents an understated story introducing ballet basics—such as girls’ and boys’ apparel and the classic five positions—deftly streamlining both text and illustrations for a very young audience. Loosely outlined in pencil and ink and wearing dance garb whose radiant colors pop in each minimalist scene, Bea and the diverse group of toddlers in her ballet class are cherubic and infectiously enthusiastic. The informal, staccato narrative offers an effective mix of voice, incorporating third-person (“Mr. Paul plays the piano for class”), second (“We clap hands to the music!”), and first: “I love to dance!” proclaims Bea in one of several speech balloons, the only sources of color other than the children’s clothing. The visual tempo also varies; a static spread that shows four closeup, labeled feet placements (flat, relevé, point, flex) is followed by energetic scenes depicting the dancers performing various moves. A former dancer and Caldecott Honor artist (Ben’s Trumpet), Isadora conveys the joy of ballet in a book that’s sure to buoy the confidence of beginning dancers. Ages 1–5. (May)