Belinda the Ninja Ballerina by Candida Baker
Published by Ford Street Publishing
Not every little girl wants to be a ballerina.
Belinda is such a child. Her ambition is to be a ninja, so when her mother insists Belinda will enjoy ballet school, she says emphatically, ‘No, I won’t.’
However, when Belinda hears her cousin Millie is going to be there, she decides to attend, but insists she still wants to be a ninja.
At ballet school cousin Millie fits in well and Miss Kate the teacher likes Millie’s ballet skills. Belinda, though, stands on her head and does cartwheels.
Miss Kate reminds Belinda that even though she is very good at what she does, her actions are not appropriate for ballet.
All the while, Belinda tries hard to impress on her teacher that she’d much prefer to be a ninja than a ballerina.
Miss Kate becomes annoyed when after weeks of rehearsal for a Little Miss Muffet dance planned for the end of term concert, Belinda can’t remember the dance steps and still does cartwheels.
Itchy in her costume, Belinda has a meltdown. Finally, Miss Kate listens to her pleas to be a ninja. When she offers Belinda the special role of ninja spider in the Little Miss Muffet dance, Belinda couldn’t be more excited.
Ninja spider Belinda has her moment on stage, where she roars, unlike any spider. She does such a good job of being scary that all the Little Miss Muffets run screaming off the stage.
That night at bedtime, Belinda’s mother compliments her little girl on being a wonderful ninja.
‘I told you,’ says Belinda.
Yes, she’d told the grownups about her ambitions, but for a long time no one had listened.
This is a quirky picture book, perfect to reinforce to children they don’t have to be like everyone else and that it’s okay not to want to join in traditional activities.
It has other layers though.
The teacher, Miss Kate, keeps Belinda’s engagement with the ballet school alive by adapting to the little girl’s special interest. That way, despite her interests not really fitting the group, Belinda remains with others of her age and is not isolated.
The book also reinforces to adults who might read this story to youngsters that, while children should be offered traditional experiences in order to decide what they really enjoy, listening to a child’s true needs is important and can make the difference between a blossoming, satisfied child and one who never quite reaches potential.
This gorgeous book acknowledges in a cheerful and cheeky way that, even in childhood, not everyone marches to the same drum.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Candida Baker
Illustrator: Mitch Vane
Title: Belinda the Ninja Ballerina
Publisher: Ford Street Publishing
Published: September 2015