cover image The Bear Who Went to the Ballet

The Bear Who Went to the Ballet

Jean Richardson. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-0318-6

In this slightly sugary story, Harriet's grandmother sends her a special birthday gift: a bear dressed as a ballerina, holding tickets to a performance of The Sleeping Beauty. When Harriet bring the bear with her to the ballet, the other toys feel resentful, and challenge the bear to show them her dancing skills. Stalling for time, she audits Harriet's ballet class and secretly attempts some plies before sobbing, ""Why am I dressed like a ballerina if I can't dance?"" When she can no longer put off performing for the other toys, the brave bear admits she is no ballerina-but offers to relay the story of the ballet she witnessed on stage. She does this with such flair that her audience proclaims her a ""real ballerina bear."" Winter's (A Baby Just Like Me) suitably soft, pastel-hued illustrations make graceful transitions between the narrative's two dissimilar fantasy-based settings, the domain of the talking dolls and the ballet stage. Though precious, the tale delivers a neat lesson on the rewards of self-acceptance. Ages 5-8. (Nov.)