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Monday, November 27, 2017

Waltz of the Snowflakes, written and illustrated by Elly Mackay. Running Press, Hachette. 2017. $22.49 ages 5 and up

"It is a cold and rainy
evening when Gran gives
her granddaughter something
special: tickets to the ballet.

Her granddaughter is reluctant
to go. The weather is terrible
and they have to wear fancy,
uncomfortable clothes.

But ... "

This is a gorgeous wordless book that celebrates a popular and treasured ballet, The Nutcracker. The young girl, gifted tickets by her grandmother, is not keen to dress up in fancy, uncomfortable clothes and attend.  It is a stormy night and going out is rather unappealing.

The two are seated front row in the balcony beside a grandfather and his grandson, who annoys the girl with his exuberance for the upcoming performance. It isn't until the music soars that she is drawn into the wonder. Act One begins, capturing attention and concern over the fight between the Nutcracker prince and the Mouse King.

The two young people make a brief connection during the intermission, and are then drawn back into the beauty of the second act. As the ballet continues on a happier and more splendid note, the reactions from both children and their pleased grandparents are endearing. They have made a connection through love of the performance.

Elly Mackay uses brilliant color for the ballet scenes, alternating those with sepia tones and panels for the children and their reactions to the evening's performance. She also places spot illustrations on ballet panels to focus solely on the children and their responses. As they leave the theatre, the two continue to exhibit the joy felt while watching and share their own dance of joy on the way home. The front endpapers reflect the dreariness of the landscape prior to the performance, while the back endpapers show promise of a new friendship.  

What a grand introduction to an outstanding shared experience!

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