Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: The Cranky Ballerina

Publish September 27, 2016

The Cranky Ballerina, by Montreal author and illustrator Elise Gravel, shines the spotlight on a gutsy, reluctant dancer who finally finds her true calling.  Every Saturday morning, Ada struggles into a leotard that is “waaay too tight,” wrestles with a fluffy pink tutu that is “waaay too itchy,” and attends a dance class that she unequivocally dislikes.  Not surprising, the little girl is always grouchy on Saturdays.  Despite Miss Pointy’s ever-patient instructions, Ada’s jetés are flops, and her arabesques are “grotesque.”  During one particularly ungraceful pirouette, she spins straight out the door and crash lands into another class in session.  Mr. Chop is so impressed with Ada’s signature moves, he invites her to join his School of Karate. Elise Gravel’s quirky and charming illustrations fully bring to life Ada’s spirited personality.  The child’s frustration on the dance floor is palpable:  her tongue sticks out in focused concentration, and her arms and legs flail around in a frenzied blur.  A green, freckle-faced monster companion provides a running commentary:  “She hates ballet.”  When Ada’s previously maligned scissor kicks and side punches garner applause from the karate kids, a huge smile spreads across her face.  This is a clever, infinitely relatable picture book that explores the message that everyone is not great at everything, no matter how hard they might try.  As The Cranky Ballerina shows with aplomb, it is okay to find what makes you happy.

The Cranky Ballerina

Elise Gravel
Harper Collins Canada
ISBN 13: 978-0-06-235124-1

Linda Ludke
Linda Ludke

Linda Ludke is a librarian at London Public Library.  Her reviews have appeared in Quill and QuireSchool Library Journal and CM:  Canadian Review of Materials.  When she’s not reading and writing she also loves searching for vintage treasures.

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