When I was eight, I began ballet lessons. I had been dancing around the living room for years, and I think my mother thought it would be easier on the furniture. (The arms of our sofa made excellent alps when the Von Trapp family had to flee the Nazis in The Sound of Music.) I did love the leotards, especially the ones with satiny fronts that we wore for our recitals, but I didn’t love the disciplined practice. I was also a bit of a klutz.
Tallulah, a budding ballerina who is the star of five picture books by Marilyn Singer, is not a klutz and she does love to practice. From the moment we meet Tallulah, in Tallulah’s Tutu (Clarion Books, 2011), we know that she is going to be “a great ballerina.”
Tallulah’s enthusiasm is irrepressible and shines through in Alexandra Boiger’s watercolors. Tallulah doesn’t understand, though, why she doesn’t get a tutu when she begins her lessons. When her teacher explains that “it takes time and a lot of practice to earn your tutu,” her disappointment causes her to have a tantrum and she gives up ballet. But she really does love ballet. She dances around the neighborhood and through the supermarket. Eventually, Tallulah returns to her lessons and earns her tutu.
In a previous post, I’ve written about A Mindset for Learning (Heinemann, 2015) by Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz. Throughout her five adventures, Tallulah exhibits all the characteristics of a person with “a mindset for learning.” Although Tallulah suffers disappointments in each book, her optimism and persistence always pay off in the end. She demonstrates resilience and flexibility as she faces challenges. Also, Tallulah learns much from those around her who show her empathy when she feels most defeated.
Tallulah may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but she was exactly what I needed to lure one of my students, a young ballerina who hated to read with a very fixed minset, into the world of books. We have talked about how Tallulah responds to the problems she’s faced with and how we can learn from Tallulah’s resilience and flexibility. While I still have a way to go with this student, I’ve earned her trust by sharing Tallulah’s stories with her and she’s making progress. We sometimes return to these stories if she needs a break or is having a particularly bad day. After all, it’s hard not to feel better after spending time with Tallulah.
You can learn more about Tallulah and her adventures here. Please be sure to visit Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye at Unleashing Readers to find out what others are reading.
3 thoughts on “IMWAYR: Tallulah’s Tutu & More”
Sounds like a perfect book for some of the fairy and princess-obsessed kids at my library, something that might encourage them to branch out a little bit and try something new!
Both my granddaughters started ballet this year, but it wasn’t for Ingrid, the six year old. But Imi, now four and a half, is flourishing. I will need to buy at least one of these for her, Catherine. And I like the “mindset” aspect too. Thanks for sharing so much about them.
I didn’t realize that the Tallulah books are written by Marilyn Singer – now I have to find them!