So there I was, walking around the halls of the International Reading Assn conference, and I stopped at the small but elegant display of Barefoot Books. I was immediately struck by their distinctive style. One in particular was The Barefoot Book of Opera Stories. “You need. . .” I said to the young woman behind the table, “a book of ballet stories to go with that.” She smiled. “Hi, Jane,” she said, and I only latterly realized that 1. she was the editor and 2. she had been assistant editor at Philomel, one of my major publishers and we already knew one another. She agreed they needed such a book and I said–having been a student of ballet at Balenchine’s School of American Ballet back in the Pleistocene–that I would love to do it. With my daughter, Heidi. And so the odyssey began. Things are always so much simpler in the beginning. Well, two-and-a-half years, three editors, and a lot of false starts later, the book is out. The illustrator Rebecca Guay, is an Amherst neighbor, someone I had wanted to work with for at least five years, only no one had ever wanted to pair us together. Barefoot had found her all on their own, and this was to be her second book for them. Publishing is a funny old game.
Both Barefoot books were suggested as gifts on Dance Advantage.
What reviewers have said:
- “Guay’s colorful illustrations will appeal to the most romantic dreams of any balletomane, emphasizing the brilliant colors, elaborate costumes and choreography usually associated with the ballets in performance. Overall, a wonderful book for school age children and up either to read or have read to them.” — A Fairy Tale Book Store (online)
- “Lots of young girls dream of becoming ballerinas some day, and this book is packed with classic ballets that will take them to another world. You’ll be enchanted by the stories of Swan Lake, Cinderella, The Nutcracker and more. This book also includes a brief history of classical ballet. The enchanting illustrations bring the ballets to life.” — Kidsbookshelf
- “The authors have captured the drama, excitement, and magic of these stories, making them enjoyable as read-alouds and enlightening for young theatergoers. The mostly full-page, watercolor illustrations are lush and romantic, and beautifully complement the text.” — School Library Journal
- “All of these great stories are wondrously brought to life with Rebecca Guay’s beautiful color illustrations in the style of great fairy tale books, and though The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories is meant for young and old alike, the tales are not dumbed down for young readers but are superbly presented in all their glory or sorrowful tragedy, as the case may be. Highly recommended.”-Children’s BookWatch