The beauty and wonder of ballet welcome the reader right from the cover. Pink toes shoes on beautifully arched feet and just a hint of a tutu hold the promise of a glorious performance to come within the pages of this ABC. Isadora’s (Not Just Tutus, p. 309, etc.) vibrant pastel paintings pulsate with the excitement of a Grand jeté and a Pas de chat. She takes readers Backstage for Lights and Makeup. Costumes vary from the traditional Odette and Queen to the 20th-century Firebird. There’s the excitement of a Variation and the quiet formality of a Révérence. Each full-page painting is bordered to give it its own special focus but all blend together in smooth transitions. The “Z” for Zipper is truly inspired, ending the book on a note of grace with its backstage perspective of a ballerina in pose. Children are in the paintings even though at these ages they could not actually perform the steps. They do dream of that performance, though, and see themselves onstage. Their faces here display the fervent concentration or spirited happiness of the world of ballet from studio rehearsal to stage performance. For those readers who don’t recognize the sets and costumes, Isadora provides a glossary. This is a lovely accompaniment to Peter Sís’s Ballerina! (2001), Patricia Lee Gauch’s Tanya stories, and Isadora’s own Lili at Ballet (1993). (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-050238-X

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.


Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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A brother and sister participate in their Tae Kwon Do class in a most welcome addition to the Step into Reading series. This level-one title sports predominantly one-syllable, short vowel words in two-to-four-word sentences. Spirited images and mainly well-chosen action words in rhyme will hook little boys: “We count. We yell. We all kick well.” But the multicultural, coed students portrayed here, and the apparent accuracy of belt colors and class content, widen the applications. Bonita’s illustrations depict cheerful, cartoonish kids with shiny button noses, impossibly pudgy feet and thighs like enrobed sausages, but the sparring, jabbing and block-busting yield a sure hit. Parents, teachers and librarians desperate for first-level, child-appealing readers will cheer out loud—and quite possibly execute a few joyous spinning kicks of their own—as they snap this one up. (Easy reader. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 25, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83448-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2006

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