BOOKS OF THE WEEK
This week, the Junior Librarian, Phoebe from Owl class, shares with us one of her favourite reads.
Phoebe recommends Ella Bella Ballerina – The Magic Toyshop, written and illustrated by James Mayhew.
Phoebe’s reason for her choice: “I like the character, Ella Bella, and reading about all of her exciting adventures.”
Mrs Harvey supports Phoebe’s choice – the Ella Bella series of books are very popular with our Grimsdell readership. In this story, Ella Bella, the eponymous little ballerina in author/illustrator James Mayhew’s picture-book series devoted to her adventures, returns for her sixth appearance in a story based on a less well-known ballet, this time in a dreamlike interaction with the cast of the La Boutique Fantasque. The ballet’s plot is skillfully summarised and delicate watercolour-and-ink illustrations capture the magic of an enchanted toyshop. James Mayhew’s richly detailed storytelling and his exquisite, retro art-style make this book perfect for all would-be prima ballerinas. The final page is devoted to ballet facts, so children can learn about the origins of the ballet, which was first performed in London by the Ballet Russe company in 1919. These series of books provide a wonderful introduction to classical ballet.
In this story, Ella’s ballet teacher, Miss Rosa, tells them the story of La Boutique Fantasque. The story takes place in a toyshop full of dancing dolls, she explains, as she shows them her own collection of dancing dolls and her magical music box. When Ella stays late to help clean up, she finds herself magically transported to a toyshop filled with magical dancing dolls! Ella is thrilled to meet all the dancing dolls, but she is especially taken with two can-can dancing dolls that are in love. When two different families come to the shop and decide to each buy one of the dolls, the pair are distraught. Now Ella wonders … is there some way to keep them together forever?
The Grimsdell Library has all six of the books in the Ella Bella Ballerina series as well as the entire set of the Katie series. James Mayhew’s first book for children was Katie’s Pictures Show, (Orchard Books 1989) establishing the long running series about a child’s adventures in an art gallery. Many of his books have a cultural agenda and James is passionate about introducing children to art, music, opera, ballet and traditional tales. His series of Katie books are much-loved and respected as an early introduction to art. He has published over 60 books and illustrated and written for many other colleagues including Philippa Pearce, Martin Waddell, and Jackie Morris.