The ballerina-to-be explores new and challenging steps—successfully.


From the Tallulah series , Vol. 4

To toe or to tap—that is the question for Tallulah.    

Tallulah happily looks forward to summer dance classes except for one hitch. She will have to take tap lessons. Younger brother Beckett is eager for them, but Tallulah is disdainful. As expected, she does well in ballet, even receiving compliments from the teacher. A girl in her class, Kacie, is also not a happy camper. She is a tap dancer and loves it because it is “so much cooler.” In her continuing tales of the Brooklyn balletomane, Singer sets up a see-saw scenario that sees Tallulah struggle with tapping and Kacie grapple with ballet. Self-confidence takes a direct hit as both girls refuse to face less-than-stellar class performances. When Kacie turns up as a surprise dinner guest, Beckett prods the two girls into admitting their fears. They help each other with steps and exchange friendship bracelets. Boiger continues to provide lovely watercolor paintings; summery greens for the camp setting and for costumes are just the right touch. Endpapers depict the four moves in tap’s flap step. Kacie demonstrates them at the beginning of the book, and Tallulah joins her at the conclusion. And, of course, Tallulah’s front-cover green-and-pink tutu is satisfyingly glittery.

The ballerina-to-be explores new and challenging steps—successfully. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-23687-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.


This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...


A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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