Thursday, May 25, 2017

SERIES THURSDAY: Ballet Cat by Bob Shea


ABOUT THE BOOK

Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony are trying to decide what to play today. Nothing that Sparkles suggests--making crafts, playing checkers, and selling lemonade--goes well with the leaping, spinning, and twirling that Ballet Cat likes to do. When Sparkles's leaps, spins, and twirls seem halfhearted, Ballet Cat asks him what's wrong. Sparkles doesn't want to say. He has a secret that Ballet Cat won't want to hear. What Sparkles doesn't know is that Ballet Cat has a secret of her own, a totally secret secret. Once their secrets are shared, will their friendship end, or be stronger than ever?

REVIEW

As in Mo Willems Elephant and Piggie books, Bob Shea presents the reader with the trials and tribulations of friendship.  In this first book,  Sparkle suggest several different things they could play, but each time Ballet Cat points out that that activity will not work with what she wants to do (crafts, leaping, spinning).  Thus the pair ends up playing ballet, as usual.  But eventually Ballet Cat becomes away that Sparkle isn't feeling very sparkly and she asks why. Sparkle is reluctant to share his secret because he's afraid Ballet Cat won't like him any more when he does.  In addition to the delightfully spare illustrations where the pair and their movements and feelings are the focus, the relationship between the friends is clearly portrayed.  Not only is this a fun book to read but it's also a great book that leads right into some fun activities such as 'practice ballet'  or crafts as well as helping children learn that friendship requires give and take on both sides.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Ballet Cat is getting her friend Butter Bear ready for her big ballet debut. "Leap, Butter Bear, leap!" Ballet Cat prompts. But Butter Bear would prefer to just point her toe. When Ballet Cat keeps pushing, Butter Bear gets hungry, then thirsty, then sleepy . . . The bottom line is that Butter Bear would rather do almost anything to avoid making a big leap. Why? Because her bottom is covered in silly underpants! This second entry in the Ballet Cat series will have beginning readers rolling on the floor with laughter.

REVIEW

Working as an elementary librarian I have learned that certain words produce giggles regardless of the context in which they are used. One such word is "underpants".  So I can pretty much guarantee that this book will elicit giggles from its intended audience.  Ballet Cat and Butter Bear are practicing ballet together.  Ballet Cat wants Butter Bear to do a super high leap, but Butter Bear keeps coming up with excuses for avoiding that particular activity.  Ballet Cat gets more and more frustrated as Butter Bear's excuses keep coming.  Finally, she breaks down and asks Butter Bear why she won't just do a super high leap.  It turns out she's afraid the audience will laugh at her underpants.  Ballet Cat sympathizes but explains that if she puts her whole heart into doing the best leap she can, the audience won't even notice her underpants (luckily she turns out to be right).  But the sight of Butter Bear's underpants is bound to pull giggles from young listeners however.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Ballet Cat and her cousin Goat are preparing a show for Grandma. Each is trying to outdo the other--Ballet Cat with an elaborate dance routine (of course), and Goat with his amazing (amazingly lame, that is) magic tricks. Neither act goes off quite as planned, but it doesn't matter . . . because Grandma falls asleep during the performance! Oh well, at least Ballet Cat and Goat learn how to cooperate. (But Ballet Cat cooperates better!)

REVIEW

Grandma ends up in quite the pickle when her two grandchildren, Goat and Ballet Cat (don't ask me how that works, a dog related to a goat and a cat, this is children's literature after all, such things happen) compete for her attention.  Goat thinks his magic tricks will most impress grandma, and Ballet Cat thinks her dancing will.  But when they're acts mix together things don't go quite the way they expected and grandma has to save the day.  Shea has put together an amusing story of one-up-manship that anyone who has spent time around children should be able to appreciate.  Children will enjoy cheering for both characters and everyone should appreciate Grandma's quick thinking.  A delightful ode to family relationships.

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