Saturday, October 23, 2021

Review - Angelina and Alice

Angelina and Alice
(Angelina Ballerina)
by Katharine Holabird
illustrated by Helen Craig
Date: 1987
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

Angelina Ballerina loves turning cartwheels, hanging upside down, and even doing somersaults in the air. The only thing she likes better than doing tricks is doing them with her new friend Alice. But Alice can do perfect handstands, and Angelina can’t. When Angelina tries and falls down, everyone laughs at her, including Alice. After this, can Angelina and Alice learn to work together and become the best of friends again?

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I read another book about Angelina back in 2014 called Angelina's Big City Ballet. To be honest, I liked that one much better, even though it was a newer title. I expected Angelina and Alice, which was first published back in 1987, to be a lot stronger than it was.

Helen Craig's illustrations are adorable, and there's plenty to look at amongst the charming settings and murine characters. But the story in this one just felt really weak. Basically, Angelina tries to do a handstand and fails, which causes the older children to laugh. Alice laughs, too, and goes off to play with the older kids, shunning Angelina for a whole day, which traumatizes the poor little mouse. Then Alice asks Angelina to be her partner for the gymnastics display, and all is forgiven.

While children can be fickle and change their moods with head-spinning rapidity in real life, I don't think it works in a fictional story. I kept waiting for Alice to explain her behaviour (or at least apologize), but that never happened. Alice did help Angelina perfect her handstand, but not another word was said about the cruel behaviour. That just didn't sit right with me.

The illustrations are so cute, though, that fans of Angelina Ballerina will probably want this book for their collections (if they don't have it already). The book could spark an interesting discussion about kindness (or lack thereof) on the playground.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 3 out of 5

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