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If you’re looking for high quality illustrated storybooks to study and glean from as a writer or illustrator, you need to get this book.
Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie is adorbale, hilarious and artfully done.
Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie is a cleverly written and illustrated with mixed media. It’s extremely entertaining, and a book that kids talk about afterward for days. This is a favorite with every child I’ve read this to, and it’s often requested.
This is one of my favorite books of all time.
About the Narrative Voice and POV
(To read more about Narrative Voice and POV, go HERE.)
Sherlock Holmes isn’t the only great character whose closest friend tells us about some grand adventure. The protagonist here is the dog, but the story is told by his owner, a little girl who sympathizes deeply with her dog’s desire to put on the tutu and perform in a grand ballet production.
Anna Kemp does a great job building her story and her characters. It’s whimsical and fun, and clearly written with a particular cadence just fit to be read aloud.
What’s great about the world created in this book is that there isn’t anything particularly strange about the dog’s desire to be a prima ballerina. That part is accepted as a given, because - how could any dog resist wearing pretty tutus and dancing on stage?
The problem is that it simply isn’t allowed until the performing ballerina falls off the stage and the dog takes her place at the last second. The story is funny and sweet and the imagery is spot-on for the tone of the tale. It’s sort of a whimsical fantasy meets city life.
Sara Ogilvie is a serious artist, and her use of mixed media is highly textural, but deceptively simple imagery. It’s exceptionally well done and inspires the artist in me to get back to my canvases.
If you want to know why I feel strongly that a storybook is a story with pictures that do more than support the text but actually enhance what is written, this book is an excellent example.
There’s no question that this book has greatly entertained and inspired others. If you do a Google search, you’ll find that several children’s ballet groups have adapted the story into stage performances and that a puppet show in England has also been produced now for two years running.
Inspiring that sort of love in a storybook is I think every writer’s and illustrator’s dream!
(If you want to read more about how to adapt a story to the theatre, go HERE.)
When you read this book, you’ll see very clearly how cohesive and fun the story is. It’s just solid work.
Keep creating (and reading), no matter what.