If you’ve been in the children’s section of a bookstore recently, you know it’s not hard to find books featuring fluffy tutus and the color pink. A current favorite with little girls is the Tallulah’s Tutu series. Then there’s the ever popular Angelina Ballerina (that little mouse has been blown way out of proportion). My four-year-old daughter Ella and I like those books, too. There are some others we love even more, though. I appreciate how most ballerina books teach an important lesson along with the tutus and toe shoes.
I had I Wear My Tutu Everywhere memorized when I was fourteen, thanks to a four-year-old sister who adored it. I re-memorized it when my daughter got her own copy at age 2. I have to admit, the words are pretty catchy. I now really appreciate the mental image it gives of a ripped tutu. When Ella asks if she can wear hers to the grocery store, I say “Remember what happened to Tilly’s tutu on the swing? Yours might rip on the shopping cart.” Works every time. However, we are not above wearing princess dresses to Publix. A few weeks ago, we did our shopping with a Disney Rapunzel riding in our race car shopping cart, replete with hair extensions (attached to a headband from The Dollar Store). I figure she’s only four once.
My great aunt gave me Harriet’s Recital for Christmas one year. I really related to the main character, a nervous bear-girl who is petrified of performing on stage. I especially identified with the way she said, “Oh, it was nothing” after the recital. I was just like that as a kid. Fortunately, I didn’t make any major mistakes in piano recitals until I was in high school. At that point, there was no use pretending anymore that I didn’t have a serious case of stage fright.
Susan Jeffers’s The Nutcracker is a beautiful book. I love the perspective from which she illustrates. However, I think The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet by Deborah Hautzig presents the story in an easy to understand yet more comprehensive way. The book is a great one to read before taking your little ones to see the ballet this Christmas.
The entire Ella Bella Ballerina series are our favorite ballerina books around here. James Mayhew does a great job of telling a story such as Cinderella from the ballet background. The illustrations combine pretty ballerinas with a very cute little girl. And Ella is such a perfect name. =)
Finally, if you as a grown up need a crash course in ballet plots, pick up Of Swans, Sugar Plums, and Satin Slippers. I wouldn’t recommend it to children under ten or twelve (most ballets are rather tragic), but it’s helped me have a fairly decent knowledge of the popular classical ballets, and the illustrations are lovely.
Do you have a ballerina book recommendation? My Little Ballerina is always eager for more, and I can’t deny that I quite enjoy all these ballerina books myself. It’s a stage in Ella’s life that I’m clutching onto while it lasts. =)