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The Cranky Ballerina

by Elise Gravel

The Cranky Ballerina introduces readers to Ada, who, as the title suggests, is a reluctant dancer. Ada’s not usually in a bad mood, except on Saturdays, when she has to go to ballet class.

JulyAug-BfYP_CrankyBallerina_CoverAda hates ballet. She hates everything about it, from the way-too-tight leotard and the way-too-itchy tutu to the pliés, jetés, and arabesques (“arabesques are grotesque”). When she tries to pirouette, she spins out of control. In the words of her tiny monster companion, ballet’s just “not her thing.”

Happily, Ada discovers that although her moves aren’t ideal for ballet, they’re perfect for karate. She joins a karate class, and suddenly Saturday mornings are fun again.

The latest picture book from Montreal author-illustrator Elise Gravel includes everything fans of her work have come to expect – fun, expressive illustrations; witty text; and a unique but relatable perspective.

The story finds a creative way to teach young readers a valuable life lesson: they don’t have to be good at everything they try. By following Ada’s story, they’ll also learn that sometimes failing at one thing just means they might end up being exceptionally good at something they haven’t tried yet.

The book also looks at the ideas of community and kindness. While Ada’s ballet teacher tries hard to encourage her, her fellow students aren’t as kind. But when she joins the karate class, Ada finds a place where she really fits in, and people who support her and cheer her on.

Parents and teachers will have no problem finding funny details in the illustrations, and the speech bubbles will make it easy to get creative when reading aloud. Fans of Kate Beaton’s The Princess and the Pony, Jon Klassen’s This Is Not My Hat, and Mélanie Watt’s Scaredy Squirrel series will love this one.


Reviewer: Sarah Sawler

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins


Price: $21.99

Page Count: 32 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 978-0-06235-124-1

Released: Aug.

Issue Date: July 2016

Categories: Picture Books

Age Range: 4-8