Review Blog

Jul 08 2016

Josephine wants to dance by Jackie French

cover image

Ill. by Bruce Whatley. Angus & Robertson, 2016. ISBN 9781460752524
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Dancing, Kangaroos, Achievement. A tenth anniversary issue of this delightful story, a CBCA Notable Book in 2007, is very welcome indeed. With Whatley's wonderful illustrations, full of colour and movement, French's spare text tells us all we need to know.
Josephine loves to dance, but everyone tells her that kangaroos do not dance: they hop or they jump. But Josephine, undeterred, sneaks into town where she finds a ballet company in rehearsal. She watches, copying each of their moves, practicing all alone through the night. Even curtseying at the end of her performance. Whatley's illustrations of Josephine rehearsing her steps are wonderful, the animal so well drawn kids will reach out their hands to touch her coat.
When the impossible happens and the lead dancer sprains her ankle, Josephine is the first to leap through the window and offer her services. Dressed in her pink tutu with ballet slippers (Wow!) on her feet she is ready for the evening performance. But even then her friends, Joey and Wombat are still exhorting her to come back to where she belongs.
She is a sensation, leaping across the stage with moves never seen before, and she receives a bouquet of quite delicious roses as she curtsies. So successful is she that the audience joins in, even Joey and Wombat.
This is an encouraging story of being different, of striving to do what you want to do, despite what others think. Josephine wants to dance and try something out of the ordinary despite her friends trying to keep her at home. She longs to dance and through her perseverance achieves a milestone in her life. It is a wonderful story of achievement to be shared with younger children, encouraging discussion about trying your best, of living your dream, of being different. Whatley's illustrations are priceless. I love Josephine trying to be inconspicuous behind a tree, and the wombat with his tutu, and the boab tree and the shocked face of the costume designer. Kids and teacher swill love it all over again, and the sparkly front cover will attract the readers before the teacher gets the book ready for reading out loud.
Fran Knight

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