________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 12 . . . .February 18, 2005


I Am a Ballerina.

Valerie Coulman. Illustrated by Sandra Lamb.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2004.
32 pp., cloth, $21.95.
ISBN 1-894222-91-1.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Stacie Edgar.

*** /4



I am a ballerina.

Well, almost a ballerina.

For my birthday Mom took me to see the ballet. We sat in the dark in a big theatre while beautiful dancers sparkled in and out of the lights on the stage.


internal artValerie Coulman has crafted a charming story of a young girl's dream to become a ballerina. In I Am a Ballerina, she tells how, with the help of her devoted parents and her own determination, her dream is realized in only a few short months. Sandra Lamb's delicate illustrations in chalk-pastel echo a ballerina's graceful movements. The contrast between bright and dark hues compares the young girl's every day reality to her fantasy of becoming a beautiful ballerina performing for an attentive audience. For her birthday, the young girl's mother takes her to the ballet, and it quickly becomes her passion. Her bedroom is decorated with ballet slippers and stuffed animals in tutus. Around the house, the young girl practices and leaps in the air. The author includes some whimsical humour as her parents suggest that maybe she should get some professional training. In her mind, the one true indicator of an authentic ballerina is to be lifted high in the air. She sees this in the theatre performance, and, in the end, it is Molly's father who makes her dream come true by lifting her high in the air after her own Christmas concert. The images in this book also reflect Canada's multiculturalism. The children that attend Madame Cherie's School of Dance are from different ethnic backgrounds. The young girl, Molly, whose name is indicated only on the book's inside cover, is portrayed as a single child of mixed heritage. The gender of the students in the class is also inclusive. Among the eight young girls in light pink leotards and white tights is a young boy in shorts and a t-shirt. Although many young boys take ballet, because of the illustration of the performance at the theatre, the reader may assume that this young boy some day will be the one to lift the prima ballerina high into the air. But for now, Madame Cherie tells Molly that no one will be lifted and that "You won't learn that until you are much older."

     This entertaining story of a young girl's dream fulfillment is ideal for other children to see how some dreams come true, although girls may enjoy this tale more than boys. Parents and grandparents may also take pleasure in giving this book to a young child as a way to relive their own childhood fantasies.


Stacie Edgar is a student in the Integrated B.A./B.Ed. Education program at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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