________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 12 . . . . November 18, 2011


T is for Tutu: A Ballet Alphabet.

Sonia Rodriguez & Kurt Browning. Illustrated by Wilson Ong.
Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2011.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-58536-312-4.

Subject Headings:
Ballet-Juvenile literature.
Alphabet books-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grades 5 / Ages 4-10.

Review by Aileen Wortley.

**** /4



P is for Pointe shoes
with pretty pink bows.
Girls wear them while dancing
to stand on their toes.

The pointe shoe made its first appearance in the 1800s. In the middle of the Romantic Era, with its love of all things spiritual and otherworldly, pointe shoes allowed the ballerina to give the illusion of floating across the stage. Made out of satin, paper, and burlap (not wood, as many people think) today’s pointe shoe looks very much the same as it did in the 1800s.

Sleeping Bear Press adds this attractive book on ballet to their wide range of themed alphabet books, a practical way of introducing information on specific topics to young children.

internal art

      Using a rhyme for each letter of the alphabet, each ballet-related topic is introduced, ranging over such areas as classes, leotards, recitals, jumps and tutus. These topics will appeal immediately to younger children who can enjoy the illustrations and rhymes simply as an alphabet picture book. But T is for Tutu goes further in that each alphabetical entry also provides in-depth information and insights into the history and background of the same topic, and this addition will be meaningful for older children.

      A wealth of fascinating information is provided in these segments, including the complexities of the mechanics of dancing, the five classic foot positions, examinations required and the dangers of injury. Readers learn the logic behind the shoes and clothing worn by dancers and of magical performances, such as the Nutcracker and Giselle. Readers find out that the form of this dance, as it is known today, originated in the court of Louis X1V, a fact which explains why the universal language of ballet is French.

      The classical illustrations by Wilson Ong are truly beautiful, featuring dancers of all ages from chubby toddlers to graceful teens, to lithe boys to older teachers, as they go about their daily routines or perform on stage. In soft, misty, pastel colors, the pictures are perfectly in keeping with the classicism of the topic and more than complement the text. The cover is edged in pink and depicts three cute little girls clad in dainty tutus. But boys are encouraged to persevere past the cover as the book contains many references and illustrations of interest to all dancers, young and old, male and female!

      Authors Sonia Rodriguez and Kurt Browning, renowned in their respective fields of ballet and ice-skating, bring the authenticity of their experience to produce this competent title that provides both introductory and in-depth information for children aged four to ten. There can never be too many ballet or alphabet books, and doubtless both boys and girls will enjoy this one as they ponder the beautiful pictures and dream of dancing.

Highly Recommended.

Aileen Wortley is a retired librarian from Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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