Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony are trying to decide what to play today. Nothing that Sparkles suggests--making crafts, playing checkers, and selling lemonade--goes well with the leaping, spinning, and twirling that Ballet Cat likes to do.
When Sparkles's leaps, spins, and twirls seem halfhearted, Ballet Cat asks him what's wrong. Sparkles doesn't want to say. He has a secret that Ballet Cat won't want to hear. What Sparkles doesn't know is that Ballet Cat has a secret of her own, a totally secret secret. Once their secrets are shared, will their friendship end, or be stronger than ever?
Tapping into the same barely restrained exuberance and visual energy that characterizes much of his previous work, Shea introduces Ballet Cat, a pearls-and-tutu-wearing feline who loves to dance as much as the author's Dinosaur and Cheetah characters love winning. The problem? Ballet Cat's best friend, Sparkles the Pony, may be getting a tad tired of "playing ballet" every day. Like Mo Willems's Elephant and Piggie, these two are a contemporary comic duo with staying power; Shea mines Ballet Cat's dialed-up enthusiasm and Sparkles's hangdog expressions for everything they are worth. Boldly contrasting backgrounds heighten the strong emotions at play and, luckily, after Sparkles reveals his "secret secret" about dancing ("Is the secret that you are not so great at ballet?" Ballet Cat asks concernedly. "That is not a very secret secret, Sparkles"), this friendship is undiminished. Ages 6-8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
PreS-Gr 2--Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony are great friends. One day, when choosing what to play, Sparkles picks making crafts. "Yay! Crafts!" says Ballet Cat, until she has second thoughts. She loves to leap and dance, and leaping with scissors is not a good idea. Then, Sparkles suggests checkers. "Yes! Checkers!" says Ballet Cat. But then she decides that their dance kicks might knock over the checkerboard. What about selling lemonade? "The lemonade will splash when we spin," says Ballet Cat. There seems to be only one activity that goes with leaping, kicking, and spinning. "We could play ballet," suggests Sparkles unenthusiastically. The problem is, they play ballet every day, and Ballet Cat is slow in noticing that Sparkles is not at all interested. Sparkles is acting glum and has a "secret secret," namely that he sometimes does not like ballet. He is afraid that revealing this fact will mean they are no longer best friends. But Ballet Cat has a secret of her own. There is something that she loves even more than ballet: Sparkles. In the last panel, they are happily playing checkers. This early reader has simple, vivacious cartoon artwork done in inks with digital enhancements. Shea's signature style and bright bold colors add to the fun. Although the text is somewhat sophisticated and the dialogue is entirely in word balloons, the humor and theme of friendship and sharing will have broad appeal beyond the beginning reader set. VERDICT Move over Elephant and Piggie!--Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CACopyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.