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How to Be a Real Ballerina (Davina Bell, illus by Jenny Løvlie, Little Hare Books)

Many preschoolers go through a ballerina phase and Davina Bell and Jenny Løvlie’s latest picture book shows a little girl doing the utmost to be a real ballerina—but not quite knowing how to go about it. She wears her frilly pink tutu over her head, her matching slippers untied and even her leotard in the pool! Her wild, curly hair is not allowed to be worn au naturel and has to be tied into a manageable bun. When our protagonist starts going to ballet classes, she still finds herself out of step. (When the teacher says straight legs, it does not mean like a robot, and the barre is not the same as a monkey bar, so no hanging upside down.) But she persists through all the basic positions and practises diligently up until the special concert, when ‘going on stage feels magic’. How to Be a Real Ballerina is a book for kids who are considering ballet training but are not quite sure what that involves. The diverse cast of characters is welcome, with Løvlie’s pink-tinged illustrations including a boy among the dancers and a girl in a wheelchair participating in the concert. Unlike some of Bell’s other picture books that are more whimsical, this is a fairly straightforward one about trial and error leading to satisfaction and success.

Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer, and the books editor of the Big Issue.


Category: Junior Reviews