From School Library Journal
K-Gr 2–In this rhyming story, Selena loves to twirl and prance, so her mother enrolls her in Miss Tutu's Dance Academy. As parents and younger siblings look on, the teacher instructs her students in the elements of ballet and encourages them when they are less than elegant. Finally, the children are ready for their first recital. Although the production does not go quite as smoothly as they would have hoped, thanks to Miss Tutu's cat and an errant mouse, the audience of friends and family gives Selena and her fellow dancers a rousing ovation for their efforts. Selena is a slightly chubby and not-inherently graceful girl with plenty of bounce and a determination to succeed. The plain-looking dance instructor and her class of ordinary girls and boys should inspire youngsters who like to dance but are not natural swans. Armstrong-Ellis's gouache and colored-pencil illustrations add comic touches. Readers will want to follow the cat's antics and keep an eye on the scarf that Selena's mother knits as the tale progresses. The protagonist is a likable character with lots of heart. Many children will recognize themselves in this agreeable offering.Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT
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Young Selena may not have the ease, the grace, or the beauty of a prima ballerina, but she brings enormous enthusiasm to her beginners’ ballet class. When she feels discouraged, dance teacher Miss Tutu always comforts her with encouraging words, such as “What matters most is from the start, / My dear, you’ve always danced with heart.” Just before her dance-recital debut, Selena is overcome by jitters, but with Miss Tutu in the wings, she bravely makes her entrance and shares her love of dance. The text flows smoothly in rhymed couplets, documenting Selena’s relevés and demi-pliés along with her emotional ups and downs. Meanwhile, the energetic illustrations, done in gouache and colored pencil, recreate the bustle of ballet class, the quiet practices at home, and the onstage chaos when a cat-and-mouse chase interrupts the recital performance. One glance at the book jacket, which features Selena grinning and bowing in her sparkly tutu, will tell children if this engaging picture book is right for them. Preschool-Grade 2. --Carolyn Phelan