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: Dave Pigeon Series by Swapna Haddow

Dave Pigeon

I was fortunate to win this collection of four Dave Pigeon books in a Twitter competition run by Faber Children’s Books, they have been added to our school library and I highly recommend them to everyone, but especially Year 2 children. You are likely to snort with laughter whilst reading Swapna Haddow’s fantastically funny books and enjoying the magnificent illustrations by Sheena Dempsey!

Book 1: Dave Pigeon

The first book in the Dave Pigeon series introduces anyone who can understand Pigeonese to the eponymous avian hero and his sidekick and “trusty typer-upper”, Skipper. When we first meet this scavenging duo they are looking for food and chance upon a lovely “Human Lady” who shares the contents of her picnic basket with them. Unfortunately for Dave, the picnic basket is concealing Mean Cat alongside the tasty treats, who attacks Dave, breaks his wing and removes a considerable number of feathers!

The Human Lady takes a napkin-wrapped Dave back to her house to treat his injured wing and makes Dave and Skipper comfortable in her garden shed, where they will be safe from Mean Cat. As Dave begins to recover he uses all of his brain-power to plot revenge on Mean Cat, and when Skipper is not busy typing up their adventures he is generally pushed into carrying out Dave’s crazy plans to eject Mean Cat from the house.

This book is an utter joy to read. I love the device of Skipper typing the adventure on the old typewriter in the garden shed and the way that his voice captures the absurdly deluded over-confidence of the strutting Dave Pigeon. This pair are a wonderful comedic duo who will have children and adults in stitches as they read about their exploits. Illustrated throughout by Sheena Dempsey, this story is an absolute must for primary school libraries where it will provide huge reading pleasure for anyone aged 6+.


Book 2: Dave Pigeon (Nuggets!)

The second outing for Dave and Skipper, the pigeon pals begins with the Human Lady taking a holiday with Mean Cat, which is bad news for the birds as they will no longer have delicious food served on a regular basis. Dave is not prepared to go back to a life of getting by on scraps, and forces Skipper to join him in searching for a new human with whom they can live. Unfortunately he falls for the tricksy breadcrumb trail of Reginald Grimster and, despite Skipper’s warnings, enters the patio doors of doom! Will smart Skipper be able to rescue his greedy friend Dave, and are there really Pigeon spies? Read this madcap adventure, and enjoy the superb illustrations by Sheena Dempsey, to find out what could possibly drive a man to inventing a fiendish machine which spells bad news for the Pigeon population!

  1. Dave Pigeon(Racer!)

During a visit to Pawsville Vets, where Dave is fitted with a pigeontastic prosthetic wing, the Pigeon pals meet a group of new friends led by Jet the three-legged dog. They include an iguana who has injured her eye climbing into a television, a rabbit with memory issues after running into a speeding cricket ball and a hamster who has survived three toilet flushings!

These unfortunate animals are taunted by retired pirate parrot Opprobrious Vastanavius who challenges Dave Pigeon to a race. Despite the fact that Dave has never before raced, he takes up the challenge and another madcap adventure begins. Prepare to be entertained and amazed as Dave is trained for the big race by a legend of the racing-pigeon world!

Book 4: Dave Pigeon (Royal Coo!)

In their quest to eat the tastiest snacks available, Dave and Skipper take a trip to the Human Palace the day after a grand party, to feast on the leftovers. In true Dave Pigeon style they travel by tube because Dave’s prosthetic wing is still not ready to fly!

When they arrive, Dave comes “beak to beak” with his Pigeon doppelgänger who happens to be Prince Raju, the royal Pigeon. Immediately Dave is arrested by the Head of Security for “stealing the Royal Pigeon’s face!! After clearing up that little misunderstanding, Dave comes up with one of his clever plans, which will be familiar to anyone who has read “The Prince and The Pauper”. Another pigeontastically hilarious outing for Dave and Skipper.