Not all children like ballet. The training requires patience and dedication. Annie Barrows, the author of the immensely popular Ivy and Bean book series, did not particularly enjoy her ballet experiences as a child. Her sixth Ivy and Bean book just released with the title, Doomed to Dance. That's right. Ivy and Bean take ballet and they HATE IT.
If you know a child aged 6-10, I'm sure you've heard of the Ivy and Bean chapter book series. The series stars Ivy and Bean, two girls in the second grade. Despite their differences they become best friends. They get into plenty of trouble and their hilarious adventures and antics appeal to young readers, particularly girls.
In Ivy + Bean: Doomed to Dance, the two girls read a very interesting book about different ballets and learn about Giselle, a ballet where the main character becomes a ghost and men dance to their deaths. All the kicking and leaping and ghostly action sounds like fun so they decide they want to take ballet lessons. But, after their first lesson they lose their excitement exclaiming, "We have made a terrible mistake." Instead of kicking and leaping and chances to perform as Giselle, they practice positions and pliés. Worst of all, they find out that they must perform as "the two friendly squids" for their recital. They want to quit but can't because they begged their parents for the lessons and promised they would finish. Desperate, they plot ways to avoid the dance recital.
Barrows clever, lively book made me chuckle several times! What kid wouldn't want to place long pieces of Scotch-tape on their fingernails and wave their hands pretending to be a ghost? Ivy and Bean even paint dead fish and make fish prints in their class at school. Sounds interesting! Not to mention the very original character names like teacher Ms. Aruba-Tate and classmates Zuzu and MacAdam. (Though I'm not sure how many kids will catch on why some of Madame Joy's students call her Madame "Jwah.") I haven't read the other books in the series but I did notice that the girls, at least in this book, display some naughty tendencies and don't exactly always model appropriate behavior. They discuss plans to run away and hide from their teacher while on a field trip to the aquarium. (Thankfully, consequences are mentioned alluding that the girls don't easily get off the hook and their teacher expresses disappointment in their actions.) Those mischievous ways are one of the reasons kids gravitate toward the books, and I think most young readers will realize they can should refrain from such actions and live vicariously through the two plucky characters. Numerous black and white illustrations by Sophie Blackall provide interest to the story and display emotion, and the book is set in larger font perfect for emerging readers. My daughter is still a bit too young for Ivy + Bean, but in a few years I hope to introduce her to the series.
Ivy and Bean Doomed to Dance by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sophie Blackall. Chronicle Books (September 2009); 128 pages; ISBN 9780811862660
Book Source: Review copy provided for free by publisher (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)
Chronicle Books - Ivy and Bean Website
Annie Barrows - Author Website
Sophie Blackall - Illustrator Website
Bookpage article "Behind the Book: Ballet, My Enemy" by Annie Barrows
Ivy and Bean Teachers Guide [pdf]
Win a copy! This review is part of the Ivy and Bean official blog tour, and Chronicle Books has kindly offered to give away a copy of Ivy and Bean Doomed to Dance to a Brimful Curiosities reader.
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