Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The TTLG 2011 Picture Book Celebration: Book two hundred and ninety-one

When I was a young girl, all the girls in my class were keen to become the next Margot Fonteyn. There were no soccer teams for girls where we lived and ballet was what little girls did. Not surprisingly, most of us really weren't suited to becoming ballet dancers, but how we tried. I can remember having sore feet, and dreading those hours of barre practice. Thankfully I discovered long distance running and my ballet days ended. 

It is not easy finding the courage to be who you are. Some of us are made to be ballet dancers, but most of us are not. We have some other gift that we need to find, and then embrace. Today's book is about a little girl who takes this very important journey. 

Ann Bonwill
Illustrated by Teresa Murfin
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Tiger Tales, 2011, 978-1-58925-103-8
   Chloe’s big sister Belinda loves ballet, and now she and Chloe are going to take ballet lessons. At Dana’s Dance Shop Belinda picks pink dancing slippers, a pink leotard, and a white skirt. Belinda wants something that “has style,” so she picks red slippers and a green and purple leotard.
   At her first ballet class, Chloe begins to think that perhaps her choice of clothes was not such a good idea because she is the only one who is not wearing the more traditional pink dance outfit. To make matters worse, when the students are asked to point their toes Chloe’s toes refuse to cooperate, and Madame Mina says that Chloe has “Naughty toes.” Then, when the students practice dancing to the beat of the music, Chloe somehow ends up counting four beats instead of three.
   Unfortunately, for Chloe this is just the beginning. Her hair refuses to form a nice and tidy bun, she cannot flutter like a butterfly, and when she is supposed to “Float like clouds” Chloe spins around the classroom and collides with one of the other students. Chloe cannot help being “a cloud with gusto,” but it is not what Madame Mina is looking for.
   Many children desperately want to fit in, and sometimes this is hard to do because we are all different. How can be all be the same when we don’t all have the same gifts and abilities?
   In this clever and meaningful picture book, Ann Bonwill shows her readers that it is important to march to your own drumbeat and to celebrate the gifts that you have, rather than trying to force yourself into a role that simply doesn’t suit you. It is so much better to be who you are and to let yourself shine!

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