Saturday, October 17, 2015

Beautiful, Amazing Magical Ballet by Mary Lee

Rating: WORTHY!

This is one of a really fluffy set of children's books written, I suspect, by a mom about her daughter. The books are available in a set of three which is how I got them. The drawings - presumably by the author herself, since no artist us credited, are completely charming. The book was very readable and charmed even a curmudgeon like me, so I don't doubt it will delight children. Note that this is very much a girl's book however (there's a lot of pink here, too!), and as such it's unlikely to interest many boys, especially older ones, unless they're particularly interested in what girls get up to when boys aren't around.

The pictures were colorful and sharp, and the drawing was perfect for the intended age range. The text was simple without being dumbed-down, and there was a real story going on. I read the book on my cell phone and it was perfectly clear and legible, but one thing I missed out on is that you cannot get the double-page spread when you read the book in electronic format. You get each half of the double page on a separate screen which ruins the effect. I've encountered this same problem with graphic novels when reading them on a tablet. I think publishers and writers really need to understand that you can't write a half-way book like this - it needs to be written either for e-format or for print. It can't straddle both unless you create two separate editions, one dedicated to each format.

Keeping in mind the intense discipline, pain, broken toe nails and even broken toes that are in store for anyone who truly wants to take up ballet seriously, I recommend this for a fun read. It entertained me, as Mia goes off to her first ballet lesson and makes quite an impact - literally. This story is very imaginative, taking us inside Mia's thoughts and illustrating them for us. It bothered me that there were quite literally no boys in the ballet class. Even though this is clearly aimed at girls I think it's important not to stereotype in this manner. Boys can and do enjoy dance and ballet and it seems a bit exclusive to not even depict them. We're never going to have real gender equality as long as children are routinely subjected to this kind of subtle "brain-washing" and passive exclusion/inclusion.

Other than that I found the book as charming as the first and I recommend it, with these issues in mind.

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