Ballewiena by Rebecca Bender. Pajama Press, 2022. 9781772781373
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5
Format: Hardcover picture book
What did you like about the book? A little dachshund dreams of being a ballerina, even though her owner fails to recognize her talent. Ms. Austere doesn’t appreciate Dotty’s dancing; she’s focused on training her toy poodles Jazzebelle and Miffy for their act in the Golden Bow Talent Show. Dotty’s a washout at obedience school and flees class in tears. In the park, she meets a squirrel named Louis-Pierre, who’s specialty seems to be parkour. In a Karate Kid-style sequence, he builds Dotty’s endurance so that she can shine at the Golden Bow. Ms. Austere eventually sees the little weiner dog’s true talent and signs her up for ballet classes. The delicate and detailed gouache pictures are cute and the message of following your dreams is perennially popular.
Anything you didn’t like about it? I found the story, the language, and the illustrations a little dense and busy. Bender uses a lot of ballet vocabulary (in French), which may cause problems for whoever has to read this aloud. Endpapers do include the terms and their phonetic pronunciations, along with small diagrams of Dottie executing the moves.
To whom would you recommend this book? Ballet fans who love lap dogs would be the target audience.
Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: June 6, 2022