As much as I try not to insert any personal predilection into my kids’ activities, I must say I was hoping my daughter would want to do ballet. Because really, what’s sweeter than a little girl in a tutu? Nothing, that’s what. So after becoming obsessed with The Nutcracker ballet on Netflix (and insisting on watching it daily and listening to it in the car for months), she begged me to sign her up for ballet. She was too young at the time in Hawaii, then we ended up spending that year off the grid in Montana, and finally we settled down here in Michigan.So last fall I signed her up for classes in the same studio where my mother took me as a four year old, with visions of sitting on a bench with the other parents watching the cuteness unfold in the form of baby-faced little boys and girls twirling around and practicing lopsided pliés. But no. The children were ushered in and the door unceremoniously shut; the parents were left on benches in the hallway to wait it out (and understandably not distract the dancers). Fortunately for me, Elsie is perfectly happy to show me her moves every afternoon, running…ahem…gracefully across the living room and leaping over whatever slipper or book she’s placed in her path. I’ll take it, she knocks me out.
I bought this book when I signed her up, not realizing that it’s a series and there are more. Miss Lina’s Ballerinas, by children’s book editor Grace Maccarone, is a sweet, pink rhyming book about a group of ballet students dancing together.
Miss Lina has eight dancers in her class, all with rhyming -ina names- Christina, Edwina, Sabrina, Justina, Katrina, Bettina, Marina, and Nina. They do everything together, and dance to everything. And they’ve got their configuration situated- there are eight of them. They dance in four lines of two. But a new girl joins the class and while she’s friendly enough, all of a sudden there are nine in the class and the girls are thrown for a huge loop.
There’s some awkward fumbling, a bit of discord step-wise, and eventually they figure it out by rearranging themselves into three rows of three. And that’s it- it’s a very simple story but still very enjoyable. There’s lyrical rhyming fun, a message about teamwork, some practice with ballet terms, and all with a bit of math thrown in!
Do you have any other recommendations for budding ballerinas?