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The Only Boy in Ballet Class

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The Only Boy in Ballet Class

Denise Eliana Gruska
Illustrations by Amy Wummer

Tucker doesn't walk to school-he gets there using pas de bourree . And he doesn't drag his feet when his mom asks him to set the table. Instead, he does it in releve, balancing a plate on his head for practice. Tucker doesn't run to escape his annoying younger twin sisters, Blanche and Edie-he jetes...

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Overview

The Only Boy in Ballet Class

Denise Eliana Gruska
Illustrations by Amy Wummer

Tucker doesn't walk to school-he gets there using pas de bourree . And he doesn't drag his feet when his mom asks him to set the table. Instead, he does it in releve, balancing a plate on his head for practice. Tucker doesn't run to escape his annoying younger twin sisters, Blanche and Edie-he jetes past them.

Tucker Dohr loves to dance. His passion is ballet. When he gets to Madame Clara's Dance Studio and takes off his shoes and pulls on his very worn-out ballet slippers, he jumps so high it feels like flying and everything in the world makes sense.

And even though some people don't understand his passion-including Uncle Frank and the boys on the football field-the chance is coming for Tucker to prove to everyone just how great ballet can be!

About the Author Denise Gruska can't dance, but she really loves to watch those who can. She is a mom and a writer. She lives in Southern California with her family, who just happen to be her four favorite people.

About the Illustrator Amy Wummer has been illustrating children's books for fourteen years. She lives in Reading, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Mark, who is also an artist. They have three children-Jesse, Maisie, and Adam.

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Editorial Reviews

<i>Watermark Books</i>
Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books
— Mark David Bradshaw
<i>Watermark Books</i> - Mark David Bradshaw
Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books
Publishers Weekly

There's nothing flashy about Wummer's (The Incredible Peepers of Penelope Budd) solid watercolor-and-ink cartooning or debut author Gruska's breezy prose, yet they effectively convey what it's like to be a boy who jetés to a different drummer. Without wearing their empathy on their respective sleeves, the author and illustrator allow readers to understand both Tucker's artistic exhilaration (dancing "feels right to him. Like breathing") and his painful ostracism at school. It's too bad, then, that the story is saddled with a credibility-stretching, "everybody wins" ending: Tucker gets drafted into a pee-wee football game and saves the day with his ballet-instilled agility, thus winning over not only his former persecutors (who promptly sign up for ballet class) but also his loud-mouthed, macho Uncle Frank. That may be a comforting message, if unimaginative (all Tucker has to do is show he's one of us), but it smacks of inauthenticity. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 3 Tucker Dohr loves to dance. At school he is constantly teased for his pursuits: "Yo, Tippy-Toe Boy! Where's your tutu?" At home, his mother encourages his talents, but macho Uncle Frank isn't impressed. Despite the taunts and jeers, Tucker's passion never wanes. Walking home from a recital, he is recruited by the football team to be an emergency substitute. Not surprisingly, his nimble pirouettes and jetés win the game. In a somewhat forced ending, the same boys who used to mock him show up at Madame Clara's Dance Studio for class. Wummer's sprightly watercolor-and-ink cartoons capture Tucker's fancy footwork and the characters' varied expressions. For a discussion about gender stereotypes, pair this book with Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's Ballerino Nate (Dial, 2006).-Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423602200
  • Publisher: Smith, Gibbs Publisher
  • Publication date: 7/26/2007
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Denise Gruska is a first-time author living in San Francisco.

Amy Wummer has been illustrating children's books for 12 years. She lives in Reading, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Mark, who is also an artist, and their 3 children, Jesse, Maisie, and Adam

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Read an Excerpt

Tucker Dohr loves to dance. But it's a long time until ballet class, so when he wakes up in the morning, that's when the waiting begins.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2007

    A reviewer

    The Only Boy in Ballet Class is a perfectly charming book, wonderfully illustrated by a prolific artist, but it's also an important story for young children about coming to terms with your true self and expressing the passions you really feel, even if others don't quite get it. It's a story about commitment, about perseverance, and about unanticipated rewards. Tucker Dohr loves to dance, and not just any kind of dancing, but the difficult discipline of the Ballet. Being the only boy in a ballet class is very hard, but Tucker needs to dance, even though many of the kids in his neighborhood mock his participation in a 'girly' activity. And if that weren't bad enough, Tucker has an uncle, equally rigid and unsupportive, who constantly carps at his dancing and urges him to take up more stereotypical activities for boys. But Tucker looks forward to his ballet classes, and doesn't give up. He has heart, in a heartless world, or perhaps just a world burdened by the many broken-hearted people who've let their own dreams fade away, and then settled for someone else's dream, someone else's life. Tucker is very lucky as well his Uncle has no real say in his life, other than as a wet blanket and kibbitzer from the sidelines. Tucker's parents support him, and allow Tucker to be himself, to find his own way, and to dream his own dreams. The illustrations beautifully extend the text of the book and make it more compelling, allowing us to see Tucker's sense of joy and fulfillment in dance, both in private moments and during public performance. This book will be attractive to any child interested in the Ballet, and even includes a little glossary of dance terms which describes the various movements Tucker excels at. But it will also be attractive to any children who find themselves inhabiting the unknown territories at the boundaries of life, whether that be the difficult negotiation of gender roles and behavior, as in this book, or those who are fascinated with unpopular subjects ¿ like lepidoptery, or Etruscan pottery ¿ because Tucker does just fine. His passion turns out to be valuable in fields outside the dance studio, and he still loves to dance.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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