Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Miss Lina's Ballerinas by Grace Maccarone (2010)

     Before even reading this lovely book I knew I had to own it. As a child I was determined to be a ballerina, even though my mother never let me take a ballet class, there was always my imagination. I dressed in my pink nightgown and slippers and did pliés around the house and it seemed just as good at the time.Ballerina or not this is a great book that children will love and it has many classroom uses!
     Miss Lina's Ballerinas is about a group of eight charming girls that are in ballet together. "In pink head to toe, they practiced all day-plié, relevé, pirouette, and jeté". They danced all day, even at the market where they did their shopping. "In four lines of two, they danced without stopping." One day Miss Lina surprises the girls by introducing a new ballerina. All of the sudden their dancing was a mess, they didn't know what to do, they longer made four lines of two. Luckily, Miss Lina saved the day with her ability to divide! She told the girls "You will see how delightful it is to be three rows of three." Then suddenly, the girls agreed!
     This book is very reminiscent of Madeline which starts with "In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. Miss Lina's Ballerinas instead begins with "In a cozy white house, in the town of Messina eight little girls studied dance with Miss Lina." I like when books have similar formats, I don't think it takes away from the author's talent or skill. I think it is more of an opportunity to show children how author's craft can be recreated in their own way.
     One of the many teaching opportunities within this book is the abundant use of rhymes. The nine darling young girls all have names that rhyme with ballerina: Christina, Edwina, Sabrina, Justina, Katrina, Bettina, Marina, Nina and Regina. All of the lines in the book rhyme too!
     This book also reminds me of another book I love, One Hundred Hungry Aunts in which the aunts continue to line themselves up into even groups in order to get to the food quicker. This is where the mathematics component comes in. Teachers can bring attention to the problem solving, regrouping and division that is apparent in the book. This is a great introduction to these concepts because this book uses the small numbers of eight and nine.
I am eager to seek out more books by Grace Maccarone, the author of Miss Lina's Ballerinas. I would also like to mention that Christine Davenier, the illustrator who lives is Paris, France (so jealous), did a fabulous job at capturing the actions and emotions in this story.

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