Archive | October 16, 2014

Bella Dancerella

Bella Dancerella

Bella Dancerella









Bella Dancerella Loves to Dance

Bella Dancerella: Ballet School

Bella Dancerella: Concert Night

Bella Dancerella: The Big Test

Poppy Rose

ABC Books 2014

pbk., 48pp., RRP $A14.99


Bella loves ballet and every movement she makes is based on a dance step.  As she moves through her chores on the farm, she whirls and twirls, skips and leaps entertaining the barnyard audience, but getting into trouble with her dad because she forgets to do all she has been asked.  Even though he knows she loves to dance, and would dance in her sleep if she could, he sees it as a waste of time and would prefer her to like something useful, like fishing.  So even though she would dearly love to attend Miss Tweedie’s Ballet School, it’s unlikely he will agree…and so her farmyard friends hatch a plan to persuade him to say yes.


It seems little girls of a certain age like one of two things – ballet or horses.  Bella Dancerella Loves to Dance  is the first in a series that caters for the ballet-lovers and Miss 8 had her nose in it as soon as she spotted it, living her own dreams through Bella.  Brightly illustrated (albeit in a Disney-esque fashion) with just the right amount of text for the newly independent reader, she enjoyed all four of the series I had, particularly Concert Night which focuses on Swan Lake, a ballet she and I have attended many times.

There is a website  with lots of activities and an online search suggests that there may well be other accessories, such as how-to DVDs, all developed some time ago by a Melbourne mother Mary Toniolo.    Certainly a search of YouTube shows that there is more to the series than the books, including this clip which demonstrates the five basic positions.

While the books themselves will be a popular addition to your collection, suggesting it to parents as a possible present for Christmas may well be a smart move – they will thank you for it and many little girls will be very happy. 


The Wild One

The Wild One

The Wild One









The Wild One

Sonya Hartnett

Lucia Masciullo

Penguin/Viking 2014

hbk, 32pp., RRP $A24.99


Charlie met the wild one when he was young.  His kite got stuck in the branches of the tree and there, sitting on the bough beside it is a barefoot, slightly dishevelled little boy – looking remarkably like Charlie himself.  All day they did things that little boys liked to do running, jumping, splashing, playing in the water, rolling in the mud, hanging from trees and scattering the leaves of autumn.  At the end of the day, it was time for Charlie to collect his kite and he was surprised to find that his new friend didn’t have to go home.  “Here is where I live,” he said. 

Whenever he could, Charlie visited the wild one and played and explored the wonders of nature. They caught tadpoles and saw the tiny legs; they watched caterpillars spin cocoons and spiders weaving webs; and they hooted to the mopoke who stared at them through feather goggles.  But such an idyllic life cannot last and Charlie had to go to school to learn mathematics and history and science.  Every now and then Charlie visited the wild one and he had not been forgotten but as life intervened the visits became fewer and fewer … until one, day, with his own son in his arms, he cannot find him at all.  Is he lost forever? 

This is a most gentle story of a boy who finds another side to himself, but loses it as life intervenes but as the sun rises and falls and the moon circles the earth, he discovers it again in time to share it.  Beautifully illustrated by Lucia Masciullo – this is the third partnership between the pair – it celebrates the joys of childhood and shows that the magic never quite leaves us, even if we cover it with layers of adult life.   The passage of time and the cycle of life are inexorable but deep down we never lose the wonder of our earliest days, and the need to replicate it for our children and our grandchildren.

Like all excellent picture books, this appeals to so many ages.  It’s perfect for helping the very young understand that time passes and things change, yet at the other end of the scale it would also be a perfect addition to a more abstract, conceptual  theme of belonging or journeys or discovery.  The more you read it, the more you discover.