Saturday, January 9, 2021

Review: Bunheads by Misty Copeland and Setor Fiadzigbey (Illustrator)

by Misty Copeland, Setor Fiadzigbey (Illustrator) 
Release Date: September 29th 2020
2020 G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
PDF Version; 32 Pages
ISBN: 978-0399547645
Genre: Fiction / Children
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Misty is so captivated by the tale of Coppélia and its heroine, Swanilda, she decides to audition for the role. But she's never danced ballet before; in fact, this is the very first day of her very first dance class!

Though Misty is excited, she's also nervous. But as she learns from her fellow bunheads, she makes wonderful friends who encourage her to do her very best. Misty's nerves quickly fall away, and with a little teamwork, the bunheads put on a show to remember.
My Thoughts
Bunheads is a charming tale of two friends who support each other as they try out for the leads of the ballet Coppélia their ballet school is putting on for their yearly show.   The story does touch on self-doubt, friendship, determination, and perseverance, but there were some elements over which I was perplexed as well.

What I really liked: I liked how excited the girls were to go to dance class every day and how everyone supported each other and pushed each other.  The story was charming from that perspective and showed that if you worked hard you could achieve your dream. I also really liked how the story included a famous ballet and summed it up so succinctly for young readers to enjoy and understand.  Coppélia is one of my favourite ballets so it was nice to see it included in this book.  

The illustrations were charming and fun to look at and I think a young reader would enjoy looking at them.  They are bright and colourful, and I especially liked the ones depicting the ballet Coppélia.  I was bothered a bit by the fact that all the girls portrayed in the book were one body type, especially at that young age, and I do think a better representation of a ballet class would be better served.  

And while I enjoyed the story, I couldn't get over the fact that the main character, Misty, was attending her FIRST day of class.  And while I know Misty herself was exceptional, even she didn't go on pointe shoes her first day of ballet class.  I don't think it would be possible for someone to understand and do all of these complicated steps no matter how talented on the first day of class, and then suddenly be up for the lead in a major ballet at their studio, especially Coppélia.  I'm not really sure this is a realistic introduction to young children into the world of ballet and might even give them the wrong idea; ballet is incredibly hard work and you will not be able to do these things the first day of class.  I thought at first I misread the timeline of the book, but nope, I didn't.  
Bunheads had really gorgeous illustrations and demonstrate energy and enthusiasm, although I wish they were more representative of a ballet class at younger ages; I mean this wasn't a dance academy, at least by the book.   I did think the book ended a bit abruptly though, and I thought it missed a golden opportunity to inspire young girls to be ballerinas through a realistic portrayal, not a fantastical one. 



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