Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella by James Mayhew

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Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella by James Mayhew

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: Ella Bella Ballerina explores Sergei Prokofiev's classic ballet Cinderella. Whilst it ticks all the right boxes for pink girly girls, it suffers in comparison to James Mayhew's other books about painters, although that's just the nature of the beast. It's still worth a look.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: September 2010
Publisher: Orchard
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1846169274

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Ella Bella Ballerina's back! Before she was dancing to Sleeping Beauty, and this time it's Sergei Prokofiev's Cinderella. The music washes over here, and suddenly she's whisked away to the fairy tale, with the prince, fairy godmother and all the magic that every reader knows and loves.

We're huge fans of James Mayhew's Katie books, introducing children to the great painters. His Ella Bella Ballerina stories do the same with classic ballets. As you might expect, the Katie books work a little better, simply because you can see a close approximation of the work itself. With the ballet stories, you get the plot and some of the spectacle, but you don't ever get the full beauty and grace of either the dancing or the music. The background about the ballet at the end is a wonderful touch, but unless you intend to use it in conjunction with a trip to the ballet, a DVD or a CD of the music, then you're better off treating it as a lovely book about a ballerina.

Basing it on Cinderella does much to counter this. It's a familiar tale, and so children will enjoy seeing it told in a different way, woven with the story of Ella Bella at her ballet lesson. Both stories blend together seamlessly, allowing young girls' fantasies of being a beautiful princess to have full rein. It's all very pink and girly, but never sickly. It ticks all the princess boxes, but parents will find more underlying quality here than in many similarly pink books.

James Mayhew's illustrations have a classic charm to them - they could easily be from any telling of Cinderella down the ages. Ella Bella slots nicely into this world: she's a sweet little kid, with whom any young and budding ballerinas can easily identify with. The writing is engaging and enchanting. It's clear enough to keep little ones entertained, yet well-rounded and expressive enough to extend into those book fans who are learning to read for themselves. It's best suited for children just starting school, and perhaps ballet class. Even Billy Elliot wouldn't deny this is a book almost exclusively for girls, but as role models go, Ella Bella isn't half bad. Worth a look.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

Even the most devoted ballerina will love exploring James Mayhew's other work about painters. Why not start with Katie and the British Artists by James Mayhew? Nut Cracker by David Walser and Jan Pienkowski touches on another classic ballet. If it's fairy tales you want, check out My Favourite Fairy Tales by Tony Ross.

Buy Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella by James Mayhew at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella by James Mayhew at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella by James Mayhew at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella by James Mayhew at Amazon.com.


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