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Day 22, book 22: Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace

In the world of picture books, characters with unlikely dreams are almost as common as little girls who long to be ballerinas. Anne Marie Pace’s new picture book, Vampirina Ballerina, illustrated by the fantastic LeUyen Pham, is a charming addition that comes across as fresh and clever.

Vampirina Ballerina is a funny “how to” styled tale for wannabe ballerinas (particularly of the vampire variety). The directness of Pace’s tone goes a long way to create humour. By page two, there should be a smile on your face:

“Your first step is finding the right ballet school. I’d suggest… a night class.”

Pace intersperses real ballet tips: “Once class begins, keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth closed”, with those essential to vampire ballerinas only: “The sight of your fangs might make the other dancers forget fifth position.” The take-home messages are sweet and true: have fun, practice, practice, practice, be yourself, and be brave.

LeUyen Pham’s illustrations always look so stylish and classic, with oodles of panache and humour, like something you might see in an Oscar-winning animated French film. You can sneak a look a few of the illustrations at Pham’s blog, here. The soft, inky blues and greys Pham uses in her pictures of Vampirina’s home life work in beautiful contrast to the bright, light pinkness of the ballet school. Wonderful facial expressions appear on characters throughout as Vampirina stumbles and flubs her way towards her dream. And wait’ll you see Vampirina’s costume for her final recital. Think Black Swan, the mini-version.

Vampirina Ballerina will get a standing ovation anytime, but it’s sure to be a star this Halloween.

Vampirina Ballerina is published by Disney Hyperion.