Belinda the ninja ballerina by Candida Baker

cover image

Ill. by Mitch Vane. Ford St Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9781925272048
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Humour, ballet, Individuality, Difference. Belinda, enrolled in ballet classes against her wishes strives to tell her mother and her teacher what she really wants to do. Dressed in her tutu with slippers and leotard, but with a ninja belt and headband, she practices her ninja moves on the bar, next to the row of very pretty pink clad girls doing exactly what they are told. Her teacher is not helpful, insisting on the moves for ballet classes, but every Tuesday Belinda says the same thing, that she wants to be a ninja. Towards the end of the term the class is organised for a special performance, and Belinda is dressed in the costume the same as the other girls, but doing handstands across the floor, sees a germ of an idea develop with the teacher.
She uses Belinda's skills in a different aspect of the performance, and while the other girls dance, Belinda is the spider, using her ninja skills to great effect.
This is a glorious little story of one girl sticking to her idea of being different, of not doing what is expected of her, but striving to do what she wants to do. The illustrations perfectly reflect her cheeky grin, her determination and courage to stand up for what she wants. I love the humour in Mitch Vane's pen and ink illustrations, revealing the movement of Belinda's ninja moves and the array of girls within the ballet class. Her drawings underscore the idea of being active, of sticking up for what you want to do and being an individual.
Fran Knight