The Cranky Ballerina

illus. by Elise Gravel. 32p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062351241.
PreS-Gr 2—Saturdays are terrible—at least for Ada. They mean ballet class, and Ada "HATES" ballet. The irritable dancer pouts about putting on her "waaay too tight" leotard and tutu, all the while fussing about the bane of her existence. As the story progresses, readers understand why Ada hates ballet—she's not very good at it. Her pirouettes turn into kicks and punches, and her jetés are far from graceful. Her little friend, a stuffed (occasionally animated) creature that resembles Gravel's I Want a Monster cast, encourages her and frequently gets caught up in Ada's hazardous momentum. Ada's inability to move with poise leaves her frustrated—until her last attempt at pirouetting sends her out the door, crashing into trash cans and colliding into a karate teacher. It seems that her natural talents are best reserved for the mat. The protagonist's bad mood stems from her frustration at her failure, which sets her apart from similarly short-fused characters. The main text is composed of short exchanges, action words, and comprehensible narration. Gravel employs her signature digital style, using prominent black lines and a selective palette to create a quirky setting and tone. Furthermore, observant readers will notice subtle, giggle-worthy gestures from other characters. This book will resonate with children, especially those who have yet to channel their misunderstood talents.
VERDICT A noteworthy addition for most collections. Fans of Gravel will get a kick out of this grouchy character.

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