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Review of Emma and Julia Love Ballet

mcclintock_emma and julia love ballet2star2 Emma and Julia Love Ballet
by Barbara McClintock; 
illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary   Scholastic   32 pp.
3/16   978-00-439-89401-2   $16.99   g

“Emma wakes up early. Julia wakes up early, too…They both have ballet lessons this morning.” McClintock follows young Emma as she goes to her ballet lesson and professional dancer Julia as she attends company class and rehearsals, pointing out similarities in their days (“Both teachers make them work very, very hard”). A lively mix of page layouts keeps the pattern fresh — as do several differences (“Some of Emma’s friends dream of dancing on Broadway. Some of Julia’s friends do dance on Broadway”). Soon, these characters’ stories intersect: Emma will be attending Julia’s performance that night. The back-and-forth vignettes continue as both characters prepare for this exciting event, and the story culminates in a double-page spread of Julia’s glorious grand jeté at center stage, followed by a heartwarming encounter between the two dancers. McClintock’s fine-lined pen-and-ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations ably capture Emma and her classmates’ youthful movements and Julia’s technical proficiency and grace. Along with the similarities and differences in the two dancers’ routines and surroundings, readers will spot many ballet-centric details. This engaging and matter-of-factly diverse (Julia is African American) behind-the-curtain look at a ballet dancer’s life will be appreciated by young dancers, who will see both a reflection of their own experience and a glimpse of what’s to come.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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