Ballet Stories by Margaret Greaves and Lisa Kopper

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Ballet Stories by Margaret Greaves and Lisa Kopper

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: Classic ballet stories without the ballet, these are formal and a little old fashioned but beautifully presented.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 72 Date: September 2014
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books

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As a young dancer, I had a whole library of books about ballet, from positions to biographies to, at one point, the RAD syllabus for grades 1 to 5. Never mind that we didn't follow RAD, I wanted it. What was lacking, however, was a full on proper book of classic ballet stories, the tales behind all the famous dances. Preferably told in an engaging way, with beautiful pictures. Like this book.

Nowadays anything can be a ballet, any story re-told en pointe, but there are classics that have been around much longer, some that were never Disney-fied like Giselle and Coppelia, which are 2 of the 8 stories presented in this book. The stories are just that – tales for bedtime or break time or anytime – without any explicit references to ballet. These are the stories you see danced on stage, but fleshed out fully so you understand what’s going on and you're not left wondering why the girls are just pretending to drink something that looks a lot like Lucozade (a line from a Miss Page review of Giselle at Blackpool Grand Theatre, circa 1990). I've seen most of the stories from the book performed as ballets, but there were still lots of things I didn't know. These may be a personal spin on the tales, or facts I'd simply missed earlier when trying to glean a back story from a few pas de bourees, but they brought a lot of enjoyment to me as I read the stories.

These are classics and the language matches these, both with the traditional names (Hilarion, Siegfried) and the phrasing used. Therefore I was a little surprised when this slipped up a bit, for example when Swanhilde is having an argument with Franz and the line is

‘How dare you flirt with that horrid girl?’ she demanded, boxing his ears…

The word flirt grated a little, seeming too modern and informal against the context of boxing someone’s ears. In fact, all of these stories are on the more formal side with long words and complicated sentences which definitely make this a book for older ones, despite the picture book sized appearance. These are not frivolous stories, and some are quite dark and almost scary, and they can take a bit of concentration to understand if you're used to contemporary, almost disposable fiction that’s easy come easy go.

That aside, these are classic stories that will appeal to more serious little girls, whether or not they are into ballet. They are, after all, charming stories in their own right, and the illustrations fit in well, bringing the stories alive but maintaining their classic feel.

This is a lovely gift book for a wide age range from junior school upwards. It will make great reading for anyone who does dance and has a number from one of these classics, any aspiring dancers, and anyone who simply likes classically told short stories of good, evil, life, death, trickery and triumph. I’d recommend it, despite my earlier misgivings.

You might also enjoy The Enchanted Riddle by Charlotte Kandel, although we thought the narrator was obnoxious. For younger siblings who are dance fans, The Dance Teacher by Simon Milne and Chantal Stewart is highly recommended.

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Buy Ballet Stories by Margaret Greaves and Lisa Kopper at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ballet Stories by Margaret Greaves and Lisa Kopper at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Ballet Stories by Margaret Greaves and Lisa Kopper at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ballet Stories by Margaret Greaves and Lisa Kopper at


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