Young ballet lovers will be smitten with the story.



A poor Russian girl enchants the world with her romantic ballet performances.

Pavlova was born in Czarist Russia, the daughter of a laundry woman. When her mother took her to a ballet performance, she was spellbound. After waiting two years to be accepted, she rose through the ranks of the Imperial Ballet School despite having what was considered an imperfect body. She excelled in the great 19th-century romantic roles and made “The Dying Swan,” with music from The Carnival of the Animals, by Camille Saint-Saëns, her signature piece. Pavlova traveled around the world sharing her gift and teaching, passing up 20th-century ballets choreographed to modern music and always enchanting audiences with her incomparable style. Snyder writes in the present tense in a delicate and poetic voice that mirrors Pavlova’s onstage persona. Morstad’s art, a combination of ink, gouache, graphite, pencil, and crayon, evokes beautiful Russian cityscapes, while scenes set in a dance studio effectively make use of a white background to showcase a solitary dancing beauty. Falling snow and images of flowers and feathers reappear through the pages as motifs of Pavlova’s childhood, her passion for dance, and her too-young death.

Young ballet lovers will be smitten with the story. (author’s note, bibliography, quotation sources) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1890-1

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.


If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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