The Children’s Book Review | September 29, 2016
Written and Illustrated by Bob Shea
Age Range: 2-6
Hardback: 56 pages
Publisher: Disney Hyperion (2015)
What to expect: Friendship, Playing, Honesty, Communication, Compromise
Bob Shea (Dinosaur Vs. series) presents a new dynamic duo to love in Ballet Cat: the Totally Secret Secret.
Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony always play together. When we meet these two happy characters, they are discussing what they should do on this particular day. Sparkles the Pony offers all sorts of viable suggestions (crafts, checkers, and selling lemonade), but Ballet Cat manages to find fault with each option. For Ballet Cat, not one of these activities fits well with her main interest, which is (of course) ballet. (“The lemonade will splash when we spin.”) When Sparkles reluctantly suggests that they play ballet, Ballet Cat joyfully starts to dance, not noticing Sparkles’ boredom and disappointment. (“We play ballet every day, Ballet Cat,” says Sparkles.) Eventually, Ballet Cat realizes something is wrong and she asks Sparkles to tell her the problem. Sparkles says he cannot tell her because “it’s a secret” and “if I tell you my secret, you will not be my friend.” After Ballet Cat assures Sparkles that no secret can ever change their friendship, he tells her that sometimes, he does not want to play ballet. Ballet Cat responds with a secret of her own: she loves Sparkles even more than ballet. The story ends with the friends happily playing checkers.
Shea’s writing is perfect for the early reader; the simple words say just enough and are entirely contained within speech balloons. The straightforward text pairs well with the no-frills but happily bright illustrations. It is impressive how effectively Shea conveys the characters’ emotions (Sparkles’ boredom and frustration, especially) with just a few clean lines – of text and art.
Though simple in appearance, this book deftly teaches its readers a significant life lesson. Ballet Cat: the Totally Secret Secret shows us how honest communication can lead to healthy compromise.
About Bob Shea
Bob Shea is the author of the first book about Ballet Cat: THE TOTALLY SECRET SECRET, the Dinosaur vs. series, and several other picture books, including DON’T PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD and UNICORN THINKS HE’S PRETTY GREAT. He and his wife have their own design studio in Madison, Connecticut.
Learn more at the Official Site
Visit the author at BobShea.com
Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret, written and illustrated by Bob Shea, was reviewed by Kelley Smith. Discover more books like Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Counting, Mice, Rhyming and Board Books.
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