McCaughrean's poignant retelling of the (often tragic) famous ballet synopses is matched by the enchanting illustrations which will delight lovers of fairytales. This book would be a great gift for a ballet fan, but can also be read simply as stories. My son, who at 3 1/2 is really too young to care about dance or music (and too young to find the stories "girly"), was particularly entranced by the ghostly Giselle . Hours after reading the story,he said" I wish Giselle could come to live in my house!" With this book, she -and Petruschka and the Swan Princess and all the other well known characters -can.
We haven't read all the stories together yet as my 3 year old daughter loves the firebird so much she just asks for that one over and over again. It has led to lots of re-enactment at home and she has watched the whole ballet on youtube as a result. The only warning I would give is that some of the stories are unavoidably melancholy: sensitive children may ask questions about subjects that had never entered their minds before ie. suicide, which seems to happen in quite a few ballets! My daughter seemed a bit confused at the end of swan lake as she just isn't used to stories that don't have happy endings. That said it is so beautifully written and you can always pick and choose which ones you read depending on what you feel is appropiate for your child.
This lovely hardback book contains ten classic tales from the ballet: Swan Lake, Coppelia, Gisele, Cinderella, La Sylphide, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, The Firebird, Petrouchka and The Sleeping Beauty. It has a paper, outer cover, but my daughter prefers to remove that and I was pleased to see that the picture is on the actual book as well – so often you remove the outer cover and the book itself is just plain.
I am a big fan of Geraldine McCaughrean and think she is a wonderful storyteller. However, her storytelling is certainly enhanced by Angela Barrett’s illustrations. My daughter is ten and I think this collection is really suitable for her, but I would recommend it for ages 7+. If you have a younger child and are looking for stories that will appeal, then the “Ella Bella Ballerina,” by James Mayhew picture books are perfect.
However, if you are looking for slightly longer stories, which are perfect to read aloud, or alone, this is a lovely collection. My ten year old daughter is ballet mad and I am hoping this will help introduce her to the stories of classic ballets, to help her understanding of the storyline before she watches them. A beautifully presented book, with stories which are wonderfully told and magically illustrated.