4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Utilizing strengths and weaknesses, accepting rejection, overcoming doubt, and trying new things - all these lessons are taught in a short children's book. Sofie at Dance by Suzan Johnson subtly accomplishes this task in a story perfect for young readers.
Sofie's mother encourages her to try dance lessons. The reluctant third-grader attends her first class and makes a friend. These two girls persevere and thrive by helping each other overcome their shortcomings. The tale ends with a cliff hanger, which I assume will lead to a sequel.
Susan Shorter's illustrations are delightful. The faces match the emotions of what the characters are experiencing. The pastel colors keep the tone light, cheerful, and feminine. This book is gender-specific. All the characters are female. However, in one of the illustrations, some family portraits are displayed on the wall in the stairway; a father figure is in one of those pictures. The illustrations do show diversity through the skin color of the two girls and their mothers.
Vocabulary choices and length of text on each page are suitable for the intended audience. There was one phrase ("in the same boat") that might be confusing for an eight-year-old. Another scene that might not be understood occurs at the beginning of the story. Sofie comes downstairs, and the narrator mentions that she is wearing her favorite Eagles softball shirt. "When her mom saw her in the shirt, she knew how Sofie was feeling." Adults may infer that Sofie is a girl who likes sports more than dance lessons, but younger children might not make the connection.
Suzan Johnson has achieved a perfect balance by making a story interesting to younger readers while embedding some important life lessons. I envision this series being followed by eager students who want to learn more about Sofie. This desire to know more about her life should help develop a lifelong love of reading.
Some stylistic choices bothered me, but they were not actual errors and will certainly be unnoticed by any children who read the book. I am rating this as a 4 out of 4. The book is perfect for young readers and should be entertaining enough for adults to read to children.
Sofie at Dance
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon