Little Miss E has been going to ballet classes since she was three years old. She loves dancing and wearing her little ballerina costume, and it’s been amazing to see her progress over the last two and a half years.
Just before she started lessons, we were keen to buy her some books so she could learn more about what ballet entailed and what she could expect from the class.
The first book that came to mind was Angelina Ballerina by Katharine Holabird. I didn’t own it as a child, but I remember seeing it at friends’ houses and loving the look of the little dancing mouse.
Now more than 30 years old, the book is utterly charming and beautiful. And since buying the first in the series, we’ve since invested in a couple more, namely Angelina’s Birthday, which we gave Miss E on her birthday, and Angelina and the Princess.
The books are based on the real-life ballet experiences of the author’s own daughters. As she discusses in this Guardian article, she “would eavesdrop on all the jealousies, upsets and dramas that erupted constantly in the class and elaborate on them”. I think that’s what makes the books so endearing – the stories are simple but utterly relatable.
In Angelina Ballerina, we discover that little Angelina Mouseling loves to dance more than anything else in the world, so much so, she would often forget what she was supposed to be doing. At first, her mother calls her dancing a nuisance, but then her parents soon realise the solution is to enrol Angelina into ballet class, where she works really hard… and one day becomes a famous ballerina. As I said, a simple story, but told so well and with a lovely message about hard-work and dedication.
What really makes these stories for me is Helen Craig’s beautiful illustrations. Delicate and traditional, but with plenty of detail that enhances the story, any of them would look good in a frame on the wall.
I must admit, I’m not much of a fan of the television show or the accompanying updated series of books. They have lost too much of the essence of the originals and the images are too garish for my liking.
Personally, I think there’s a reason the original book is still a bestseller 30 years after it was first written, and I know this book is one to be kept and treasured for a long time.
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I’ve linked this post up with Mama Mummy Mum and her fab #readwithme linkie. You can see more here.