Late Summer Dances

Yes, it’s August, whether we like it or not, and in these dog days, let’s remember to relish this time before young ones return to school and life resumes its daily rhythm. With the summer’s ease in mind, the following two books are wonderful reminders that this is the season for fun, whimsy, and cultivating friendships.

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea (Disney-Hyperion, $9.99 ages 5-8) appeared on many summer-reading lists, and for good reason: Shea  cornered the market with his brand of bold, slightly retro art and snappy writing. In this early reader, we meet energetic Ballet Cat and her best friend Sparkles the Pony. The pair are having trouble figuring out what to play, and even though they decide on a dance party, Sparkles moves are less than inspired, and Ballet Cat can’t figure out what’s wrong. Yes, there is a secret, but Sparkles is scared about sharing this one – what if it ruins their friendship? Parents will find the pace similar to Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie early readers, and kids will happily read this one aloud, on their own or with adults. Looking forward to further installments in the series.

Marilyn Singer has written over 100 books for children, and her Tallulah books are particularly beloved. In Tallulah’s Tap Shoes (Clarion Books, $16.99, ages 5-8) the budding ballerina and her younger brother Beckett sign up for summer dance camp, and this is the first time our heroine tries tap. Tallulah’s confidence plummets in tap class, while another camper named Kacie excels. Both girls eventually learn that patience and hard work bring rewards, and that no one is the best at everything – themes that will certainly resonate with young perfectionists.  Alexandra Boiger’s watercolors evoke all the sparkles and glitter a tiny dancer could ever hope for, while also capturing the subtle struggle of self-acceptance and and self-discovery. Every page is a treat, right down to the endpapers where Kacie demonstrates a tap shuffle.

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