A Bunny in the Ballet

A Bunny in the Ballet

by Robert Beck

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With Paris-inspired pen-and-ink illustrations, this charming picture-book debut by an American ballet dancer stars Désirée, a spirited rabbit reaching for her dreams

Désirée Rabbit LOVES to dance, and her sleek bunny form makes her a natural! But her dream to be a famous ballet dancer in her hometown of Paris, France, is always met with one


With Paris-inspired pen-and-ink illustrations, this charming picture-book debut by an American ballet dancer stars Désirée, a spirited rabbit reaching for her dreams

Désirée Rabbit LOVES to dance, and her sleek bunny form makes her a natural! But her dream to be a famous ballet dancer in her hometown of Paris, France, is always met with one response: "There are no bunnies in the ballet!" Not a rabbit to be discouraged, Désirée marches herself down to the ballet studio to begin classes. Soon enough, she has won over her classmates and mastered all her positions. And on the opening night of "The Nutcracker," she may finally get her chance to shine!

With the quiet charm of MADELINE and the sweet sass of ELOISE, here is a classic in the making. Debut author/illustrator Bob Beck brings us into Désirée's world with graceful, playful lines and splashes of color as vivid as Paris itself.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Désirée Rabbit lives in Paris and believes she was born to dance: “And though I had never heard of a bunny in the ballet, I wasn’t going to let a little thing like that stop me.” Like any good backstage story, the road is not easy: in ballet school Désirée is hazed by the imperious Madame Molotov and lands “in a tangled heap” when she attempts her first jump. But her determination and talent win over the human dancers, and when her big break comes during a performance of The Nutcracker, she delivers with élan. Debut author Beck’s lightly arch voice, fluid ink lines, and deft washes of color give the pages a breezy stylishness. But while Désirée starts out as recognizably rabbitlike, imaginatively rendered with just a few appropriately balletic, curvi-linear lines, Beck decides she needs a more human body to carry off the tendu devant and grand jeté, and she sprouts the long limbs and nipped-in torso of a classic ballerina. Readers are left with a character who resembles a tiny person wearing a bunny head. Ages 4–8. Agent: David Kuhn, Kuhn Projects. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
Reaching for your dreams is not an easy task as Désirée Rabbit finds out in her pursuit. She wants to be a ballet dancer; she can leap and jump with grace. However, she is a rabbit and there has never been a rabbit in the ballet. Désirée is determined to study ballet so she looks for the best ballet school in Paris. At the school, Madame Molotov scoffs at the idea of a rabbit taking ballet lessons. On the other hand, Mr. Cloud, the ballet teacher, asks Désirée to dance. He sees her potential and invites her to join the class. The next day, Désirée returns to the ballet studio and begins working on her movements. She meets more challenges to her dreams. Other dancers cannot believe that she can be a bunny, ballet dancer. Determined to fulfill her dreams, Désirée works hard to become a ballerina. Some children may be inspired to work toward their dreams and goals like Désirée. Throughout the story, Beck uses fine pen lines and watercolor to create illustrations that have a simple elegance about them as they support the events in the story. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung; Ages 4 to 8.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Désirée is a driven and talented aspiring dancer in Paris. She only has one problem-bunnies are not allowed in the ballet. So what is a cottontail to do? Armed with a pink tutu, she braves multiple obstacles before finding her way into the spotlight. Although disguised as a book about perseverance and discrimination, this book is a sugary confection that pays tribute to the ballet and Paris. The character development is slight, and the bunny triumphs too quickly to make the conflicts feel serious. The book is written in a glib, effervescent tone: "They put false eyelashes on me, which felt very glamorous, and powder on my face, which felt very tickly." The illustrations are a perfect stylistic match to the text, with bubbly, swaying line drawings filled in with watercolor. Francophiles will appreciate the Eiffel Tower and interior design details, including pink telephones. The rabbit and human characters are drawn in a minimalistic, sketchy style without any facial details other than dashes for eyes. The quick lines capture dance movement eloquently, demonstrating the expertise of the author/illustrator, a ballet dancer himself. Children may appreciate the naïve nature of the illustrations, since they resemble a child's artwork. Relevant vocabulary, such as "tendu devant," "passé," and "grand jeté," are illustrated and demonstrated for those who are new to the art. Ballet-loving children and the Francophile adults who read to them may gravitate toward this title, but its story line and character development aren't particularly memorable.—Jess deCourcy Hinds, Bard High School Early College, Queens, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Toe shoes and tutus are the stuff of dreams for a rabbit. Parisian Désirée Rabbit tells her story in the first person. She has been dancing from childhood and knows that she is destined to be a ballerina. Unfortunately, the receptionist at the ballet school is adamant in her opposition. Madame Molotov (more correctly "Madame Molotova," and even then, what an odd choice of names) states that "there are NO BUNNIES in the ballet." Not one to give up, Désirée shows off her many moves, and the ballet master sees talent and drive. She practices, she rehearses, and she gets a role as a pet rabbit in The Nutcracker, dropping all her carrots with excitement at the honor. In an all-too-familiar moment, a featured dancer is injured, and Désirée hops in to applause and acclaim. Beck, a former dancer, borrows from such classics as 42nd Street for his oft-told tale of the chorine/corps member achieving stardom. His ink-and-watercolor artwork depicts dancers and Parisian scenes with swift, loose strokes against a white background. These lines look more preliminary than finished, and they suggest rather than demonstrate ballet steps. Though they evoke movement, such a treatment is not acceptable for a dance form that is so precise with its arm and leg placements. And the bunny in her tutu has lost all her plump appeal. Alas, not the stuff of dreams for balletomane readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.50(d)
AD590L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Robert Beck began studying ballet at the age of fourteen and became a professional ballet dancer, eventually performing at New York's Lincoln Center and working with the Chicago and Princeton Ballets. He founded the Palm Springs Ballet Company and directed it for six years. Robert has also earned a Master's Degree in clinical psychology in addition to his dance career. He lives in Paris with his partner and their rabbit, Desiree, who enjoys trips to the opera, gallery openings, and the corner café.

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