Archive for the ‘ballet’ Category

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Miss Lina’s Bellerinas

February 5, 2011


Title: Miss Lina’s Ballerinas
Author: Grace Maccarone
Illustrator: Christine Davenier
Best for Age: 4-8
ISBN: 9780312382438
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (2010)
List Price: Hardcover, $16.99
Buy on Amazon

When it comes to picture books, I have two general pet peeves:

  1. Books with breathtaking illustrations, but horrendous (or horrendously worded) stories.
  2. Rhyming books with inconsistent rhyme schemes.

I realize that this seems like a rather pretentious and “literary” thing to complain about, but do allow me to explain myself. Some people might say, “Cait, they are just children, they won’t pick up on an inconsistent rhyme scheme.” But trust me, they will. Especially because the true glory of rhyming books is that they are perfect for reading out loud (just think of any Dr. Seuss book from your childhood, and I’ll bet you remember it being read out loud to you). If the rhyming is done correctly, and the pattern of rhymes between lines is consistent, the reader will pick up the flow of the book, and the story will become almost like a song. However, if the rhyme scheme changes halfway through the book, or the author tries to cram too many syllables into a sentence, the reader will lose the flow of the story, and the kids will certainly notice when the fun sing-song story comes to a screeching and awkward halt.

I say all of this because Miss Lina’s Ballerinas, by Grace Maccarone, passes both of my tests beautifully! Not only does the book have some of the most adorable illustrations I’ve ever seen, but it has a sweet story as well. And, most importantly, it is a rhyming book done right.

Maccarone uses a fun and consistent rhyme scheme to tell the story of eight little girls, who study ballet with Miss Lina (pronounced LEE-NA). “Christina, Edwina, Sabrina, Justina, Katrina, Bettina, Marina, and Nina” dance in four lines of two all day long.

Little readers, especially little ballerinas, will enjoy hearing about this gaggle of girls, who, “In pink head to toe, they danced all day– plié, relevé, pirouette, and jeté.” Maccarone’s dancers prance in four rows of two all around town: at school, at the market, at the beach, at the park, and at the zoo. But when a new little girl, named Regina, joins Miss Lina’s class, chaos ensues. Despite having a name that rhymes with the rest of the girls, and lovely ballet skills, Regina throws off the existing “four lines of two” routine.

In the end the girls learn the advantages of including others, when they see the fun in dancing in three lines of three.

Maccarone’s sweet story is brought to life by Christine Davenier’s (also the illustrator of Julie Andrews’ The Very Fairy Princess) even-sweeter illustrations. Davenier’s style reminds me of a cross between Ludwig Bemelmans’ illustrations in Madeline, and Hans Rey’s original drawings for Curious George. Davenier’s use of bright watercolors (vibrant pinks, yellows, blues, and greens) are accented with crayon, giving the illustrations a fun, youthful, spring-time feel.

So, why is it worth $16.99?

  1. Little girls will love the soft, yet silly, illustrations, as well as the overall ballet theme.
  2. Parents and teachers will appreciate the book for its read-out-loud qualities, the story’s moral of including others, as well as the heightened vocabulary (“annoyed and irate, distraught and distressed”), and handy list of ballet terms on the last page.

Check out the book trailer for Miss Lina’s Ballerinas!

Other ballet books I would recommend:

Picture Books For Younger Readers:

Chapter Books For Older Readers:

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