Friday, August 27, 2010

Poetry Friday: Miss Tutu's Star Shines!

Written by Leslea Newman and illustrated by Carey Armstrong-EllisMiss Tutu's Star is a rhyming picture book about a little girl named Selena who loves to dance. She isn't the most graceful student in her ballet class, but dance is in her heart...and she is persistent. After several years of hard work, Selena is ready for her first dance recital. Miss Tutu (her teacher) helps her overcome stage fright by pointing out her strengths, and Selena's love of dance shines through.

Author Leslea Newman has received poetry fellowships from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, so it is not surprising that the poetry in this book rolls off the tongue with ease...  

Selena was a little girl
Who did not walk as much as twirl,
Who did not skip as much as prance,
Because Selena loved to dance.

For all of you dance fans out there, I was also impressed by the way Newman integrates ballet terms (including some that novices might not know, like "pas de bouree" and "pas de chat") into the story and creates great rhymes with them.

Another quality I liked was the juxtaposition between the sweet, encouraging text and the fabulously clever, at-times hilarious illustrations. Illustrator Carey Armstrong-Ellis adds several little side stories to the plot. I won't give them away, but one involves Miss Tutu's cat--and eventually a mouse--and is very funny. Armstrong-Ellis also adds quite a few details that create a real richness to the story...things like photos of famous dancers on the walls of Selena's room and wonderful expressions on the faces of even the smallest side characters.

One more thing I can't help but mention is that the colors in this book match the colors in my blog so well. I realize this isn't the best reason for liking a book, but don't you agree that pink and purple look great together? Plus, Selena's pink tutu on the cover actually sparkles. I wish I could make my blog do that!

I think Miss Tutu's Star may soon occupy a place on the list of my favorite rhyming picture books--right up there next to books like Sleepyhead BearJazz Baby, All the World, and the Llama Llama series by Anna Dewdney. Thanks to Abrams Books for Young Readers for my review copy!


  1. Hi, Kerry--

    Nice to meet you, neighbor! Thanks for commenting on my post. I hope your daughter has a comfortable first day. I was kind of hoping, given Leslea's past publishing, that Selena might have two moms. Oh well!

    I like your concept: books about dance! (I love to dance too, and have just decided that my body and my outlook would benefit from a return to more regular dancing, preferably of the salsa type.) Have you seen Janet Wong's Yoga Poems book? I forget the title, but you might stretch to including such books...

  2. Hi, Heidi. Thanks for checking out my blog, too! My daughter did have a great first day. She was very nervous (I could tell), but probably not as nervous as me! Hope your first day of school went well, too.

    Thanks for letting me know about Janet Wong's book of yoga poems. I will check it out. I'm still trying to figure out which ways my blog will be "stretching," but incorporating yoga sounds quite reasonable. It makes me think about a popular book from Barefoot Books. I think it's called My Daddy is a Pretzel, or something along those lines. Thanks again...


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