CHARLOTTE AND THE NUTCRACKER

THE TRUE STORY OF A GIRL WHO MADE BALLET HISTORY

In this true story by a young ballerina of color, Charlotte’s magical Christmas season is prolonged when she performs in The Nutcracker.

Charlotte Nebres loves ballet, both dancing in class and going to the theater to watch the ballet. One night, she sees a brown-skinned ballerina on stage, and this helps her imagine herself on stage too. In class, she practices and practices, hoping to be picked to perform with the New York City Ballet someday. She gets better and better, until finally she is called to audition. She is cast as Marie, “the hero of the story!” She is surprised to learn that she will be the first Black girl to play this role with the New York City Ballet, but she hopes other children who see her perform will feel as she did: “Welcomed. Beautiful. Ready to dance!” Readers watch as Charlotte prepares, debuts, and performs her role, then celebrates Christmas with family traditions from her family’s dual Trinidadian and Filipinx heritage. Charlotte feels the magic of the season on stage and at home. The illustrations use a variety of perspectives to portray Charlotte’s journey as observer, performer, sister, and daughter. The emphasis on her persistent practice makes her success especially gratifying. This satisfying story of inspiration, dedication, perseverance, and progress will have readers yearning to see the ballet and get into the holiday spirit. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Lovely. (author's note) (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-37490-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited.

LET'S DANCE!

Dancing is one of the most universal elements of cultures the world over.

In onomatopoeic, rhyming text, Bolling encourages readers to dance in styles including folk dance, classical ballet, breakdancing, and line dancing. Read aloud, the zippy text will engage young children: “Tappity Tap / Fingers Snap,” reads the rhyme on the double-page spread for flamenco; “Jiggity-Jig / Zig-zag-zig” describes Irish step dancing. The ballet pages stereotypically include only children in dresses or tutus, but one of these dancers wears hijab. Overall, children included are racially diverse and vary in gender presentation. Diaz’s illustrations show her background in animated films; her active child dancers generally have the large-eyed sameness of cartoon characters. The endpapers, with shoes and musical instruments, could become a matching game with pages in the book. The dances depicted are described at the end, including kathak from India and kuku from Guinea, West Africa. Unfortunately, these explanations are quite rudimentary. Kathak dancers use their facial expressions extensively in addition to the “movements of their hands and their jingling feet,” as described in the book. Although today kuku is danced at all types of celebrations in several countries, it was once done after fishing, an activity acknowledged in the illustrations but not mentioned in the explanatory text.

The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-142-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

SLUG IN LOVE

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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