Not Just Tutus

Not Just Tutus

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by Rachel Isadora

Ballet isn't just about tutus. It's hard work! It's kicking left when everyone is kicking right. Worrying if you'll fit into your costume. Getting on stage and realizing you forgot to use the bathroom! Aching backs and sore feet. Dizziness and stage fright. But there is also that magic feeling when the curtains part and the show begins . . .

In short, funny


Ballet isn't just about tutus. It's hard work! It's kicking left when everyone is kicking right. Worrying if you'll fit into your costume. Getting on stage and realizing you forgot to use the bathroom! Aching backs and sore feet. Dizziness and stage fright. But there is also that magic feeling when the curtains part and the show begins . . .

In short, funny poems, Isadora takes an honest, irreverent look at the mishaps and the triumphs in the world of ballet-all captured in gorgeous pen and ink drawings that are sure to make any dancer smile

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Isadora returns to the themes she explored in her Lili books, but with less success, as she spotlights young ballet dancers in this roundup of rhymes and pen-and-ink and watercolor wash illustrations. Organized into two sections, "Dreams and Practice" and "Makeup and Lights," the occasionally humorous but often bland four-line ditties star a cast of children preparing for a performance and eventually appearing onstage. The author, who began dancing at the age of eight, conveys the gritty as well as the glamorous sides of the ballet world-focusing on such dilemmas as coping with throbbing feet ("Blisters, bunions/ So many corns/ Look at my feet/ They're sprouting horns"), dizziness while turning and an ill-fitting costume-before describing the joy of leaping into the air to the sound of applause. Though some of the verse captures very real moments ("Oh no, stage fright/ I don't want to go/ I'm scared but I'll smile/ So no one will know"), other snippets are strained (e.g., as a girl washes out her practice clothes in a sink: "I wash my stuff/ Hour after hour/ Till there's no place/ To take a shower." More consistent and convincing are the volume's graphics, which portray not only the positions at the barre but the emotions and energy of the young dancers. Budding balletomanes will most appreciate this study of practice and presentation. Ages 5-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
For all those who dream that being a ballet dancer is glamorous and a life full of light and glory, think again. Just like any other art form it has its price. Having been a dancer herself the author knows all too well what that price is and in this often-funny little book she shows the reader that other side of the ballet world, the real side, the one where the ballet dancers live and work. She begins by showing us the "Dreams and Practice" side of the ballet world. Here we see how the dreams are born and what forms they come in. There is the little girl who knocks things over as she dances about and the one who dances whenever the muse hits her, even in the street. Then there is the painful side: here are the sore feet, the endless practice, and the "Toes on head/You gotta be kidding." The second section of the book covers the performance, the "Makeup and Lights." One has to keep in mind after all that a performance is what it is all about. Here we learn about ill-fitting costumes, mistakes made on the stage, stage-fright, broken slipper ribbons and best of all the sheer joy of a dance done well. So much is demanded of these children that you come to realize that anyone who goes in for ballet training has to be as dedicated as they come. Though the author may not have meant to happen, it is hard for any reader to put the book down once it is read and not feel a sense of pride and awe for these little dancers. This book is a must for any child thinking of becoming a dancer and for any dancing enthusiast in need of a smile and a pick-me-up. 2003, Putnam,
— Marya Jansen-Gruber
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-Short, often humorous poems introduce a troupe of endearing young dancers, describing their aspirations, endless toil, and the ultimate thrill of performing. In the first section, "Dreams and Practice," the boys and girls do endless stretches and bends ("Nose to knees/And splits while sitting/Toes on head/You gotta be kidding"); make mistakes ("I turned around/And struck a pose/She turned left/And banged my nose"); yet still manage to keep their hopes alive. In the second part, "Makeup and Lights," the children experience the ups and downs of being on stage. These verses touch upon topics such as costumes that don't quite fit, getting a case of the last-minute jitters, losing one's tights during a glorious leap, and reveling in applause. One poem sums up the reason for all of the hard work: "I put on wings/Just watch me fly/I turn and jump/And touch the sky." Printed on salmon-colored paper, the elegant pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations depict dancers of all shapes and sizes. Beautifully rendered, the pictures incorporate graceful moves and poses with realistic glimpses of children fidgeting, fooling around, grandstanding, and having a good time. Although filled with lighter moments, these poems depict dancers with a real sense of commitment to their art, making the book most appropriate for youngsters who have taken a few steps beyond Katharine Holabird's "Angelina Ballerina" books (Pleasant Co.).-Joy Fleishhacker, formerly at School Library Journal Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Isadora (Peekaboo Morning, 2002, etc.) calls on her experience as a professional ballet dancer in this lighthearted look at the backstage world of a children's ballet school. She divides her text into two sections: "Dreams and Practice" and "Makeup and Lights," with each page containing two rhyming couplets and a related illustration, all printed on attractive beige paper. Young children (both boys and girls, age six to nine) who are fairly experienced dancers are shown dreaming about ballet, going to class, stretching, learning new movements, and then preparing backstage and performing. They also experience some of the difficulties of the dance world: body image, costumes that don't fit, not being able to eat or drink while backstage, stage fright, and sore feet. Some adult readers will note that several of the children shown dancing in pointe shoes are clearly too young to be dancing on pointe, reinforcing that unrealistic expectation of little girls who can't wait to be dancing on their toes. Isadora's delicate watercolor-and-ink illustrations have the polish of a practiced professional, effectively showing the little dancers in motion or at rest. Her rhymes are sometimes funny or charming, but often don't scan well or contain word pairs that really don't rhyme ("sore" and "sure"). The illustrations dance, but the text remains pedestrian. (Picture book. 4-7)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.20(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 6 Years

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Not Just Tutus 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
So I'm in the B & M Barnes and Noble, picking up yet another copy of 'Wheels on the Bus' for my toddler, when my six year old asks for a book too. I agree and she finds this one. I'm thinking that this is just a little girl ballerina book, so I buy it without, unfortunately, READING it first. I sat down with my daughter to read it when we got home, and the farther I read, the more horrified I became. An excerpt: 'She is thin And she is tall And she is pretty They've got it all I know I'm short I know that I'm round But I want to dance So I stand my ground' *If that isn't the prelude to encouraging an eating disorder, I'll eat my hat. Here's more: 'If you fight backstage Go far away The audience hears Whatever you say' or 'It doesn't matter If you're the best in the room If you don't fit Into the costume' *This book is for five and up? About 25 years ago, I was in a regional ballet company. As a result, I have many concerns about very young children doing ballet on this level. This book isn't about dolly dinkle dance recitals or dreaming of tutus which is what I thought would be in this book. No, I don't think that the woman who wrote this book meant any harm, but then again, she hasn't a clue about parental concerns and dance or she wouldn't have written the book this way. I'm sure those who 'love dance' will love this book. I used to love dance until I saw what it did to the bodies and minds of young people. There is a serious difference between enjoying dance class and this stuff. And considering that this book is for very young girls, I think that it's inappropriate fare. I think it's a bad set up for the future if they take it to heart. This isn't something that I want to normalize. The book is being returned. I would have given it NO stars, but that wasn't an option.