Picture Book Review: The Little Dancer

The Little Dancer by Géraldine Elschner

The Little Dancer: A Children’s Book Inspired by Edgar Degas
by Géraldine ElschnerOlivier Desvaux (Illustrations)
4 out of 5 stars

Young Jeanne travels to Paris with her mother, hoping to be accepted into the opera ballet. She works very hard to pass the entrance exam, and then spends her days in endless dance classes and rehearsals. When a painter asks Jeanne to model for a sculpture, she is eager to earn some extra money for her mother.

I love the Impressionist art that honors Degas’ style. The blurry lines and smudges of paint are full of meaning. Each page is awash with color and motion. The design of each scene is enchanting, and each dancer is elegant and graceful.

I like that Jeanne does not have a fairy-tale life. Her mother works in the laundry, and Jeanne only earns two francs per day working in the ballet. Her feet hurt, her back hurts, and she is exhausted by all the hard work. But she keeps dancing. She dreams of learning the piano, but there is no extra money for music lessons.

The story is well-written, and I enjoyed the character arc for Jeanne. I think there might be some aspects in the writing that are lost in translation a little bit. As charming as the writing is, I feel like I’m missing something. It’s probably more whimsical and lovely in the original French.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts and are not influenced by anyone.

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