We enjoyed reading and reviewing Sally O. Lee’s The Rabbit and the Snowman, so I was pleased to be invited to review her latest children’s picture book, The Tutu Ballet.
Lee’s whimsical ink and watercolor illustrations are again a delight, but the story didn’t appeal to me this time around. The setting is a ballet class taught in the forest by Ms. Berry. Each of her four students is boisterous in his/her enjoyment of the class (there is a male student in the class, which I appreciated). One especially likes high kicks, one twirls endlessly, one performs a perfect plie, and one can jump like a kangaroo. each time they rehearse, the students quickly move away from the ballet as scripted and segue into their favorite step. Ms. Berry ponders how to reign in the students to perform for the recital; her solution is to allow each student to perform only his favorite step. The ballet is a success for the students, the audience and Ms. Berry.
The ballet is not a success for me. I was frustrated by the lesson learned – let the kids do what they want, forget working together as a team. I also struggled to read the font at times; it’s Lee’s original “snowman” typeset, which I had no trouble reading in The Rabbit and the Snowman. The Tutu Ballet did give me the opportunity to explain the word “mayhem” to my kids; I like that Lee used this word, which stretched my kids’ vocabulary.
My younger children, ages 4 and 6, were quite taken by The Tutu Ballet. My six-year-old’s favorite part of her dance class is when the teacher plays fun club music and the students dance “freestyle.”