Sunday, November 20, 2011

Good Toes or Naughty Toes?

I'm really enjoying the inaugural International Picture Book Month, which is celebrating my favorite kind of book throughout November. As part of the celebration, I want to share with you a new book from Tiger Tales--a small independent publisher that happens to only create picture books.

Naughty Toes, written by Ann Bonwill and illustrated by Teresa Murfin, was actually first published in April 2011 by Oxford University Press in the United Kingdom. Tiger Tales then published it a few months later, in September 2011, in the United States. Here's the cast of characters from the book:

  • Chloe is the narrator and main character. She dances with gusto...but not with much grace. 
  • Belinda is Chloe's big sister. She's a natural ballerina.
  • Madame Mina is the girls' ballet teacher. She makes Belinda the star of the ballet show and casts poor Chloe as a rock!
  • Mr. Tiempo plays the piano during ballet class. Chloe and her creative spirit make him smile again and again.

"Float like clouds!" says Madame Mina, and I spin around the room like a dust cloud, clap like a thundercloud, whoosh like a rain cloud...SMACK! straight into Anthony. "What were you thinking?" asks Madame Mina. "I was a cloud with gusto," I say. Before I hang my head, I think I see Mr. Tiempo smiling.

It is clear from the start of the book--even before ballet class begins--that Chloe might not be the perfect candidate for a ballerina. She prefers a purple and green leotard over a classic pink one, and her fuzzy hair just doesn't want to be wrapped up neatly into a bun. 

As the book continues, it becomes more and more apparent that Chloe is out of her element. But Chloe also becomes more and more comfortable and confident with that fact. By the end of the book, with help from a secret supporter, she realizes that instead of a ballerina she is actually a tap dancer!

The art by Teresa Murfin nicely complements the text and the unique qualities Chloe possesses. Murfin apparently gets some of her inspiration from papers and fabrics, which show up in the tutus of some of the dancers and in other objects, like Mr. Tiemp's piano bench and a bouquet that Belinda receives after the girls' ballet show. 

I would love to see more of Murfin's art, which mixes her paper-and-fabric style with interestingly proportioned drawings of the characters. I'm also curious to find out what happens next to Chloe, as she starts her new tap class. I guess I will have to hope for a sequel!

If you want to learn more about author Ann Bonwill's inspirations for Naughty Toes, you can read my interview with her here


  1. Thanks for stopping by, Catherine! I had fun writing this post, too...and looking up the "good toes, naughty toes" video. I hadn't heard of that saying before, but it appears to be popular, at least in the UK...

  2. thanks for the review. just bought this as a Xmas present for my neighbors daughter, who does ballet.

  3. Hi, Darshana. Thanks so much for letting me know. I hope your neighbor's daughter enjoys the book!


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