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Monday, January 11, 2016

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret, written and illustrated by Bob Shea. Disney Hyperion, Hachette. 2015. $10.99 ages 3 and up

"We could sell lemonade."
"Perfect! I'll get the lemons.
The lemonade will splash
when we spin.
"What if, maybe, we don't
spin today?"
"HA! Don't spin?
Good one, Sparkles."

Are you looking for a new series to get your young children interested in reading on their own? In this first book about Ballet Cat and her friend, Sparkles the Pony, we learn much about friendship. Sparkles is a terrific friend, always willing to let Ballet Cat make the daily decision for their play.  Then he, as so often friends do, runs out of patience for always 'playing ballet'. I mean, every day? He has a secret he needs to share.

Both are appealing characters and are sure to make young readers smile, and perhaps laugh out loud at some of the antics displayed. Ballet is frightfully enthused about life and the time she spends with Sparkles. Her heart wants to allow Sparkles to have a say in what they will do each day. Her head knows how much she loves ballet, and how it must be part of everything she does. Of course, that wreaks havoc with anything Sparkles suggests. Does doing crafts allow leaping with scissors? Not a good idea. Might ballet leaps knock the checkerboard flying? Pick something else, dear Sparkles.

Ballet Cat's wears her tutu well, and her expressive face is filled with eternal exuberance. Sparkles loves his friend, but it is not hard to see that he is not so keen to always bow to her wishes. Kids are going to love this new dynamic duo for the humor, the secret that Sparkles has been keeping and the way in which Ballet Cat handles how he is feeling. It turns out that Ballet Cat loves only ONE thing more than she loves ballet.

Speech bubbles, appealing artwork and lots of emotion are sure to gather kids in to hear what the two have to say ... and to learn how they solve the difficulty that faces them. Expressive and energetic, let's hope that this book is the beginning of a grand new partnership between two great friends.

Hooray for Bob Shea! 

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