I came home last night to discover that someone had stuffed my Little Free Library with ten assorted children’s books to go with the adult mysteries I usually carry. I wonder if I’m the only person who arranges strictly by size when it comes to their LFLs? I wasn’t a huge fan of how my otherwise generous benefactor shoved the books into my neatly arranged and curated shelf, but after sorting everything by size — which meant that kids book and adult books sat neatly next to one another; I’ve always read both and see no need to segregate them — I decided to keep this cutie for myself. And honestly it was the perfect book for me to wind down my day with, a cute story with even cuter illustrations, combining two of the cutest things in the world: children’s ballet and magical bunnies.
Millie is very excited to start ballet classes at Miss Luisa’s School Of Dance. Alas that she gets off on the wrong foot with her class’ queen bee, Amber, almost as soon as she walks in the front door. To make things even worse, she swiftly discovers that she’s woefully behind everyone else, and that neither her teacher nor most of her peers have a huge amount of patience for this.
After class ends and everyone else leaves, a distraught Millie wanders the studio while waiting for her mother. A noise from the curtained stage causes her to come across four magical bunnies in tutus. The Ballet Bunnies are not only very kind to Millie, but also offer to show her how to properly do the steps she was having trouble with in class. As Millie’s mother finally arrives to pick her up, they anxiously ask whether they’ll see Millie again next week. Given the rough time she’d had in class that day, Millie genuinely doesn’t know. The Ballet Bunnies will have to do their best to restore her confidence and remind her why she ever wanted to take dance lessons in the first place.
This is an extremely cute children’s chapter book that features diverse and adorable characters as a matter of course. Binny Talib’s expressive art perfectly compliments the text, with lots of pinks, purples and pastels to perfectly match a story about kid’s ballet. Swapna Reddy’s story is surprisingly realistic, with its depiction of mean kids, dance teachers who are definitely better at dancing than teaching, and tardy moms. I also loved Samira, the fellow student who 100% did the work Miss Luisa was supposed to.
Despite being a book ostensibly about magical bunnies who instill confidence, this is really a tale of not giving up and the powers of friendship and kindness. I’m going to leave this book lying around the house, in hopes that my kids will pick it up to look through. My 9 year-olds really enjoyed going to the ballet and are somewhat interested in learning how to dance, so will hopefully be drawn to it, even tho they’re currently very anti-reading ahead of summer vacation ending soon. It helps that there are boy characters as well as characters of color throughout, increasing the appeal of this book far beyond the usual demographic that dream of growing up to be ballerinas. I’m super glad this charming title was donated to my LFL, and hope it will appeal to and encourage my sons, too.
Ballet Bunnies #1: The New Class by Swapna Reddy & Binny Talib was published March 2 2021 by Random House Books For Young Readers and is available from all good booksellers, including