by Rebecca Bender (Author)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

The award-winning creator of the Giraffe and Bird books introduces Dotty the dancing dachshund to celebrate the gifts of those who struggle to sit and stay

Dotty the dachshund knows she was born to dance ballet. When told to sit, she does a plié. Asked to stay, she does an assemblé. Fed up with Dotty's lack of discipline, Mrs. Austere sends her to the Canine School of Obedience, but Dotty just can't seem to learn. Heartbroken, the little dog flees to the park--where an unexpected new friend is waiting. Could he know the secret to helping Dotty dance out her dreams with her own kind of discipline? In Ballewiena, author-illustrator Rebecca Bender, creator of the award-winning Giraffe and Bird books, introduces a new volume of animal hi-jinks. Tucked into the witty language and amusing antics is a story about growth mindset and a perceptive note of encouragement for anyone who was made for activity in a world that expects stillness.

Select format:

Kirkus Reviews

A grand addition to the animal corps de ballet. 


The story is well paced, and the lively pictures, created with gouache, watercolor, ink, pencil, and digital elements, portray Dotty as a determined ballerina, performing impressive feats while balanced on her tiny yet strong back legs. A picture-book romp for children who dream of ballet.

Publishers Weekly

Dotty, a piebald dachshund with a warm brown tummy and face, loves classical ballet. "She chasséed down the sidewalk, stepped in glissade at the park, and pranced in pas de chat by the fire hydrant," writes Bender (the Giraffe and Bird series). But Dotty's owner, Ms. Austere, portrayed with paper-white skin, prefers her dogs to perform conventionally, and hauls Dotty off to obedience school. Fleeing to the park ("All I want to do is dance"), Dotty meets a Balanchine-like squirrel, Louis-Pierre, who encourages her passion while demanding rigorous practice: "Look how much discipline you've gained, Pitou! The more focus you have, the better you dance." This insistence on diligence and commitment propels Dotty to a triumphant performance at the dog talent show, which shows Ms. Austere the error of her ways, and infuses freshness into a familiar-feeling beat-of-one's-own-drum story (Dotty even realizes why Ms. Austere's other dogs practice unceasingly). The gouache, watercolor, pencil, ink, and digital illustrations brim with joie de vivre as the wiry pooch spins, leaps, and pursues her dream--readers may find themselves becoming budding balletomanes as the story unfolds. Ages 4-7. (June)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for Ballewiena

 "In this inspiring tale, a dance-dazzled dachshund, Dotty, cannot resist mimicking the ballet moves she loves."—Foreword Review

"The delicate and detailed gouache pictures are cute and the message of following your dreams is perennially popular."—Youth Services Book Review

"Overall, BALLEWIENA holds a powerful message for young aspiring dancers and I would recommend it to fans of ballet. It's also a cute story for children to enjoy and learn to follow their hearts."—YA Books Central

"Ballewiena by Rebecca Bender and Pajama another cute book [about] the importance of going after your dreams and to remember to just dance."—Book Time

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Pajama Press
Publication date
July 19, 2022
BISAC categories
JUV031020 - Juvenile Fiction | Performing Arts | Dance
JUV019000 - Juvenile Fiction | Humorous Stories
JUV002070 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Dogs
JUV039140 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Library of Congress categories

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!