BOOK REVIEW: ‘Bunheads’ by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey

32 pages
c.2020, Putnam

These days, helping others is on point.

It’s the best thing to do – not just for them, but for you. Everybody’s happy when you work together because it makes the task a little easier, and learning is better when you teach one another as you go. Helping others is right on point and, in the new book “Bunheads” by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey, it’s more fun, too.

Everyone was really excited when Miss Bradley made her announcement at the beginning of dance class. She said they were going to perform the ballet “Coppélia,” a tale of a toymaker, a beautiful doll, a boy named Franz, and his jealous girlfriend, Swanilda. It was a dramatic tale and little Misty couldn’t wait to dance that ballet.

This, in fact, would be her first big dance and she very much wanted to be Swanilda. But before she could do that, she had to try out for the role, just like all the other girls in ballet class. There were a lot of different dances to know and she’d have to do them all perfectly, from the easy développé to tendu front, to the very hard-to-do pas de bourrée. Misty’d never danced like that before, but as Miss Bradley called Misty and a girl named Cat up to the front of the room, she said Misty was “very good.”

Miss Bradley asked Cat to show Misty the first part of the Coppélia. Misty was so excited! Even the name, pronounced “Co-pay-lee-ah,” sounded “magical and full of mystery!”

But the next day, began Misty to have her doubts. Cat was really good. What if she wanted the part of Swanilda, too? How could Misty ever compete with anyone so talented?

As the other dancers filed into class, Cat and Misty stuck together. Cat began to teach Misty more moves, and it was so much fun but everyone in ballet class, it seemed, wanted to dance the Coppélia. Misty could predict that Cat would definitely be in the ballet because nobody was a better dancer. But would Misty land a part, too?

At the risk of being a spoiler, there’s a happy ending to “Bunheads,” but you probably already knew that, whether you’re a patron of the ballet or not.

Which brings us to the meat of this book: the title, referring to hairstyle, is for little ballet dancers. Pure and simple, it’s for kids who twirl and tippy-toe and jeté through the house, kids who first-position without even thinking about it, kids who’d wear a tutu in the tub, if they could. Author Misty Copeland speaks directly to their hearts with authenticity, and she addresses any ballet-diva behavior your little one might have by showing that competition is good but learning from the competition is better.

Non-dancers may appreciate this adorable book, but it’ll be so much more meaningful for little ballet stars or ballet fans, boys or girls, ages 3 to 7. If that barre is already set for your child, “Bunheads” is en pointe.

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