Well, the cutest thing happened a couple weeks ago. I was in the studio at WYPR, Maryland's NPR station, preparing to record a segment about comics for kids with Tom Hall of Maryland Morning and Snow Wildsmith, librarian, blogger, and co-author of A Parent's Guide to the Best Kids' Comics: Choosing Titles Your Children Will Love. Snow's great. She knows EVERYthing about comics, and she sometimes wears tiny hats. AWESOME tiny hats.
Snow lives in North Carolina, so she couldn't come in to the studio, but she called in on the phone. The producer needed to get a level on her voice, and asked her to just sort of read whatever she randomly had on her desk. What did Snow have on her desk? Vampirina Ballerina. What was on my own desk? Vampirina Ballerina. Coincidence? Yes! A spooooky coincidence!
But cute! Because the little vampire-ette of Vampirina Ballerina is so cute.
Now, I've already written a post about the good comics that Snow and I talked about with Tom, but today, I believe it has been made quite clear to me - by the universe - that I must review Vampirina Ballerina.
It's likely that I would have needed a push from the universe, as I generally ignore ballerina books. There are just so many of them. There are kangaroos and dogs and pigs and boys and dinosaurs and mice and Olivia and Fancy Nancy - it's kind of exhausting. And kids who want ballerina books can identify and find ballerina books without too much guidance on my part. I just gotta hold em up and say, "Nutcracker? or Swan Lake?"
But how can I resist - not to put too fine a point on it - LeUyen Pham. LeUyen Pham! She draws kids with chunky limbs and flyaway hair. She draws props and interiors just off-kilter enough to be fun, but not so much that things go all Twilight Zone warped-looking. And every face, every expression is one that you have seen on the face of a real kid somewhere at some time.
She puts me in mind of the very best wildlife artists - the ones who have sat at the zoo for hours making sketches of an animal in every position and mood. I guess that's a little stupid of me. I mean, I'm sure people who draw people spend hours doing exactly that in life drawing classes and at Starbucks and during dull meetings. In fact, I know they do. I've seen their sketchbooks.
And the prose is delightful and the drawn details are charming. This is my favorite ballerina book of the last several years. Although that Olivia book is terrific.