Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dogs Don't Do Ballet

Written by Anna Kemp
Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
$15.99, ages 4-8

Biff's legs are nothing like a gazelle's and he's rather thick around the belly, but he's got all of the passion of a prima ballerina.

The only problem is convincing grownups that even a short-legged pit bull like him can dance.

Unlike other dogs who are content to fetch sticks and wee on fire hydrants, Biff longs to dance on tiptoe with his girl, a young ballet dancer.

One day while tying on dance slippers, the girl notices him gazing at her tutu and asks her dad if Biff can come with her to dance class.

Looking over his newspaper, Dad shoots down her request and insists that dogs don't belong in ballet. Biff, however, can't resist the call and sneaks off to follow the girl.

But when Biff tries to join the class and even demonstrates a good first position, the teacher shoos him away and tells him that dogs don't do ballet.

Biff's ears droop like wet pigtails and a big tear drips down his cheek as the girl rests him on her shoulder and carries him out of the studio.

For days, Biff is so distraught from rejection that he refuses to eat his treats and holes up in his dog house, howling at the moon, until one day the girl figures out how to cheer him up.

The girl asks her dad if Biff can join their family at a ballet concert and as usual her dad refuses, but once again Biff decides to go anyway and this time, shows all of the grownups what a stout little dog can do.

Best Parts: I loved the moments in this story when nothing is said between the girl and her dog, but all of their affection comes through.

When the girl throws Biff a stick and he doesn't go after it, she happily fetches it for him. Later the two sit together cross-legged on floor pillows, completely entranced by a dancer on TV.

Biff's so cute readers will wish they could scoop him off the page. His right eye is encircled with brown fir like Petey from Hal Roach's 1922 series Our Gang and when he ignores all of the naysayers, you want to cheer him on.

By book's end, you might even see your little one sidle up to her real-life pooch and try to guide his paws into her tutu.

(Though if her dog is like ours, the extent of his ballet dreams may be whipping the tutu around with his teeth, pouncing on it and barking silly.)

No comments:

Post a Comment