Although Monica took the lead in creating the book, she didn't do it alone. Her daughter Lydia, who is a professional ballet dancer, was a co-author. As you might expect, Lydia had lots to say about what went into the book, given that she knows firsthand what it's like to be a ballet dancer from a young age. You can read more about this wonderful mother-daughter collaboration in my interview with Monica. Here we go!
Who is the target audience for My Ballet Journal?
We think the journal is probably best for children ages 6 and up, for children once they start taking formal ballet classes. Ages 8-10 would probably be ideal, when training tends to get more serious and kids start to do small performances. I know Lydia would have loved to keep a journal like this herself at that age. It also seems to appeal to older kids too. Some of Lydia’s adult colleagues at New York City Ballet saw the journal and wanted to write and draw in it themselves!
I had the same reaction! My two daughters are really enjoying the journal, and I bought an extra copy just so I could have one for myself! The first few pages include space for a child to write his or her name and age and to either draw or paste a picture of himself or herself. The last few pages include a ballet dictionary and space for students to write their future goals. And the large middle section of the book is where all the fun is! Students can decorate a ballet bag, learn how to make a bun, write down the ballet steps they are learning, color dancers and costumes, and so much more! Here's a sample page, courtesy of Monica…
How did you come up with the idea for the journal?
I have written and illustrated over 30 picture books, but none of them are about dance. I have wanted to do a book project about ballet for a long time, and at last this is my first one! Lydia was the inspiration for this project. I was remembering when she was a young ballet student and all the things that she first loved about studying ballet. Ballet was hard but she kept at it year after year. There were big milestones, like her first pair of pointe shoes and her first time performing on stage in the Nutcracker. It would have been fun to have been able to keep a record in some way, and to have a memento years later.
Here is a recent photo of Lydia. She was cast to perform the Arabian dance in the New York City Ballet's 2014 production of the Nutcracker. Wow!
Can you tell us more about your collaboration with Lydia?
That's really neat. It sounds like a really special experience working with Lydia on this book. Do you have any other children's book projects in the works -- dance-related or otherwise?
I am working right now on a picture book about autumn leaves that will be out in fall 2015. I’m also hoping to do more projects about dance. Maybe Lydia will write a story that I can illustrate!
How are you and Dover Publications getting the word out about this book? How can readers of Picture Books & Pirouettes help?
We are trying to get the word out to dance students, teachers, and schools. Thank you for having us do a Q&A on your blog. Lydia is always so busy with dancing, but I hope she can do a few things with me. It would be fun to do a book-signing event where she could show how to put on pointe shoes, how to put on stage make-up, and demonstrate various ballet steps, for example.
Oh, that sounds like fun. Let me know if you end up hosting an event like that, and we can post some photos on Picture Books & Pirouettes. And thanks again for taking part in this interview. I just know your journal is going to be a big hit!
To learn more about Monica, visit her website here. You can also link to Dover Publications to see all 19 of her projects with this particular publisher. And finally, you can read more about Lydia and her dancing career here. Also, feel free to leave a comment to let Monica and Lydia know what you think of their journal. I'm sure they would love to hear your thoughts!