Review: Ballet Bunnies The New Class by Swapna Reddy

ballet bunnies

 

Ballet Bunnies is a new series starring Millie a young ballerina and the magical, miniature bunny rabbits who live at the ballet school she attends. The New Class is the first in a series of six books being published by Oxford Children’s Books with this and Book 2, Let’s Dance, coming out in June 2020.

I was delighted to be sent an ARC of Ballet Bunnies The New Class, an absolute must-read for all young dancers! It is the perfect size and length for newly confident readers in Key Stage One, with gorgeous full-colour illustrations in a pastel palette throughout. The pictures of the ballerinas are immensely cute with slightly oversized heads and huge expressive eyes, perfectly designed to appeal to young readers. The series has been written by Swapna Reddy and illustrated by Binny Talib and wonderfully, it features a multi-ethnic cast of characters at the ballet school and to complete its appeal to a broad readership, a boy ballerina is featured too.  It is so important for all children to be able to see themselves in the books that they read and I’m sure that these books will find a wide, appreciative audience. I can certainly imagine a large number of children at my own school who will be pirouetting in delight after reading about Millie’s adventures. 

Six-year-old, ballet-obsessed Millie is about to fulfil her dreams by starting lessons at Miss Luisa’s School of Dance. She skips into the class with her spirits soaring, only to encounter an unfriendly comment and mean looks from another member of the class, star pupil, Amber.

Feeling despondent at her inability to perfect the pliés with the same grace as Amber, Will and Samira, Millie is left waiting for her mum to collect her at the end of the lesson. Startled by a movement behind the stage curtain she investigates and finds Dolly, Fifi, Pod and Trixie, the magical, talking and dancing miniature bunnies! What impact will her new friends have on Millie’s future at the ballet school? You will have to read this book to find out.

The story is delightfully written by Swapna Reddy (a firm favourite with me and my library users due to the hilarious Dave Pigeon series she writes as Swapna Haddow). In Ballet Bunnies her style is one of gentle encouragement as she helps young readers experience the effects that mean behaviour can have on someone’s confidence, and contrasts this with the powerful force of kindness and support. A perfect book for any child who might be feeling discouraged by a challenging task, and a wonderful addition to the bookshelves of all young dancers.

Thanks to OUP Children’s Publishing for my review copy.

For my reviews of the Dave Pigeon series, please follow this link.

Review: Peril en Pointe by Helen Lipscombe

Peril en pointe

 

This first story in a new series, The Swan House Mysteries, sparkles like the rhinestones on a tutu!

The main protagonist, Milly, is astonished to be offered a scholarship to The Swan House School of Ballet, particularly after her expulsion from her previous ballet school following a disastrously clumsy performance in the Scarlet Slipper Ballet competition. On that fateful night, many months previously her mother, a world-famous ballerina, mysteriously disappeared from the audience, leaving Milly to be cared for by her Russian Babushka (grandmother), “Bab”.

On arrival at the grand mansion in Regents Park which is home to the Swan House Ballet School, Milly is incredulous to find out that it is no ordinary ballet school – in the words of the director, Miss Celia “ ballet dancers make excellent undercover agents. They are physically strong and mentally resilient. They also have good reason to travel the world.” Thus Milly finds herself, not only practising at the barre, but also learning martial arts and espionage skills!

In the manner of all great school-based stories, there is a great cast comprising vicious queen bees, led by the duplicitous Willow, larger than life teachers and our heroine, Milly’s friendship group of misfits: Lottie Li ( a mandarin-speaking, cockney scrapper), Merv Crump (a germ-phobic genius) and Benedict Spencer ( a leather-jacket wearing, rebel). On the staff rosta the standout characters are Madame de la Cloche, the strict ballet mistress, the martial arts instructor, The Captain (referred to as Thor by Milly) and of course Miss Celia the director who is frequently risking life and limb on another undercover mission.

The descriptions of the ballet school, with its extensive grounds, boating lake and secret tunnels make an exciting setting for the intrigue to come. Additionally, the wonderfully old-fashioned Meeks Shoemaking shop plays a key role in the mystery, and had an atmosphere reminiscent of Diagon Alley to me.

The plot revolves around another Scarlet Slipper Competition, with Swan School competing against an American and a Russian Academy. The Russian school is led by Ivan Korolev a former pupil of Miss Celia and now “ inciting discord and war..” Is he responsible for kidnapping Milly’s mother, and will the newly recruited young spies be up to the task of unravelling the mystery. The narrative is as light on its toes as a prima ballerina, the plot gliding effortlessly to the final denouement. Helen Lipscombe has an elegant turn of phrase, for example, “the theatre sighs with the sound of violins” which makes this book such a pleasure to read.

Milly embodies the school motto “ Cycni venustas cor leonis “ grace of a swan, heart of a lion!” and by the end realises that some things are even more precious that a coveted Scarlet Slipper trophy. 

I highly recommend this new twist on the adventure/mystery genre, featuring courage and friendship, to readers of 9+.

 

 

This is #Book11 in my #20BooksofSummer challenge, hosted by Cathy at 746Books