Publication Date: August 2012
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Oh, to be a ballerina! It's a challenge for any little girl, but even more so if you happen to be a vampire like Vampirina. First of all, you have to find a class that meets at night. Then you have to figure out how to perfect your form when you can't see yourself in the mirror? And then there's wearing pink (not the most flattering of colors if you happen to be undead) and that nagging urge to take a little nip out of the other dancers. And worse of all STAGE FRIGHT!!!
Anne Marie Pace (www.annemariepace.com) has had stories, poems, and articles for kids published in such magazines as Highlights for Children, My Friend, Wee Ones, and On the Line. A 2005 Grand Prize winner in the Smartwriters W.I.N. contest as well as a 2009 SCBWI Barbara Karlin Award Letter of Merit recipient, her first picture book, NEVER EVER TALK TO STRANGERS, was published in September 2010 by Scholastic Book clubs.
LeUyen Pham (http://www.leuyenpham.com/) is the prolific and bestselling illustrator of many books for children, including Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio, Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore and God's Dream by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Pham has also written and illustrated her own works, including All the Things I Love About You and Big Sister, Little Sister. A former animator for Dreamworks, she lives with her husband and two sons in San Francisco
Pham (All the Things I Love About You) and Pace are entirely in sync in this sweetly goth "how to" for vampirettes under the spell of something more powerful than anything the dark forces can muster: ballet. "Your first step is finding the right ballet school," writes Pace, with just the right mix of vampiric hauteur and upbeat helpfulness. "I'd suggest... an evening class." The book's case in point is a spunky vampire girl (once again, Pham makes spunky feel fresh, unforced, and the furthest thing from cutesy) who, despite support from her stylish vampire parents, needs all the help she can get: "The road to ballerinadom can be bumpy," Pace reminds readers, and it's not any easier when one is alarming to one's classmates or occasionally turns into a bat. The underlying messages are familiar: there are no shortcuts to achieving an ambitious dream, and persistence and a sunny outlook (even when one is a creature of the night) pay off. But seldom have these lessons been expounded with so much charm. Ages 2 6.—PW
It's a familiar story: a young girl begins dance lessons, works hard, perseveres through doubts and missteps, and eventually makes a successful debut performance. The twist here? She's a young vampire, taking evening ballet classes. Aside from a few vampire-student-specific tips (watch the fangs; don't trip on your cape when curtsying to Madame), Pace's encouraging text reads like an advice book for any young dancer. Pham's illustrations steal the show, offering plenty of visual jokes for both vampire fans (Vampirina's spider-lace costume and lack of reflection in the studio mirror) and balletomanes (she poses for a Degas-style painting and wears a "Dancing Queen" T-shirt). The watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations make excellent use of black and, of course, soft ballet pink; two foldout pages highlight Vampirina's recital with her classmates. Sound advice, good technical form, and correct terminology will help ensure that young ballerinas will, as Madame advises, "always move with your head held high." But the message that passion, dedication, and patience have beautiful results is inspirational for any reader. After all, "it doesn't matter if you take one giant leap or many tiny steps, as long as you are moving toward your goal." -katie bircher—Horn Book
PreS-Gr 2 On the advice of her mother, a pale little vampire with tiny fangs and a black cape enrolls in an evening class at Madame Sang's Dance Studio. Although the rosy-cheeked ballerinas all dressed in pink are a bit startled by their new classmate, Vampirina does her best to fit in. Under Madame's watchful eye, the little girls learn to pli , relev , and arabesque. Vampirina's mother tells her to follow Madame's instructions, to keep moving toward her goal, and to stay in tip-top shape. The aspiring ballerina practices and practices until she is ready for her debut. On the big night, she dons her costume, overcomes stage fright, and takes a well-earned bow after the performance. The sweet and spooky watercolor and pen-and-ink pictures are filled with motion and portray Vampirina's "road to ballerinadom" with humor and insight. The illustration of the opening-night performance shows the nervous dancers behind the curtain and then opens out into a four-page foldout across which the five graceful girls twirl and jet . Vampirina is just as endearing in her devotion to ballet as Katharine Holabird's dancing mouse in the popular "Angelina Ballerina" series (Viking). This story of perseverance and determination will appeal to young dancers, who will identify with Vampirina's struggles and cheer her on as she ultimately takes her triumphant bow on the flower-strewn stage. -Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Boston, MA—SLJ
In this humorous how-to guide for wannabe ballerinas, an all-in-black vampire girl attends dance class amidst a sea of pink leotards. Sure, this gal is different-none of her classmates can spontaneously transform into a bat, for instance-but she is learning technique and practicing, just like everybody else. Pace's funny, matter-of-fact advice ("always get a good day's sleep") works in harmony with Pham's expressive watercolor pen-and-ink artwork, which depicts the adorable minivampire leaping and pli ing enthusiastically across the pages. Kids who aren't into frilly will welcome this departure from typical ballerina books. - Ann Kelley—Booklist
Pace and Pham have choreographed a delightful tale of a winsome young vampire trying to make her ballerina dreams come true. The deadpan text includes plenty of good advice for anyone with dancing aspirations: "Always drink plenty of water and eat healthy meals get a good day's sleep move with your head held high," and "Practice! Practice! PRACTICE!" But this vampire differs quite a bit from her fellow dance students, with her black leotard and winged cape, her pointy fangs and her ability to "poof" into a bat at the most inopportune moment. Not only does she not fit in, but she also frightens her classmates and alarms Madame with the absence of her reflection in the studio mirror. As the evening of her big debut nears, the vampirina's supportive family rallies around her and creates a beautiful costume of spider lace and swan feathers. Then "the lights dim / the music swells, / and the curtain opens"-as does a dramatic double gatefold to reveal the five dancers executing an exuberant performance. The pen-and-ink and-watercolor illustrations paint a cozy blue-gray world for the vampires' home, contrasting with the brighter, lighter dance school portrayed in pinks. Deft strokes capture facial expressions that reveal nervousness, effort, fear, surprise, confidence and joy. By the show's end, the prima vampire has exceeded everyone's expectations, including her own. Readers will applaud this elegantly designed, well-told story. Brava, indeed. (Picture book. 3-6)—Kirkus