Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea

Published by Disney-Hyperion

Summary:  Best friends Ballet Cat and Sparkle Pony are trying to decide what to play.  Sparkle makes several suggestions, but all Ballet Cat wants to do is dance.  After dancing a while, Ballet Cat notices that all is not right with Sparkle Pony.  At first Sparkle Pony doesn’t want to tell her, but after some prompting, he/she (not sure which…we’ll go with he for now) admits his secret:  he doesn’t always want to play ballet but is afraid Ballet Cat won’t want to be his friend if he doesn’t.  Ballet Cat assures him there is one thing she loves more than ballet, and that is being his friend.  On the last page, the two friends are playing checkers, surrounded by craft materials and lemonade, all the activities suggested by Sparkle Pony.  Ages 4-8.

Pros:  Fans of Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie series will enjoy this new easy reader.  Just like those books, this has simple illustrations with cartoon bubbles color-coded to each speaker, and celebrates the ups and downs of childhood friendships.

Cons:  This seems a bit too derivative of Elephant and Piggie, with less appealing illustrations.  Also, will boys warm to a series with characters named Ballet Cat and Sparkle Pony?

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