Written by Jackie French, Illustrated by Bruce Whatley
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2006
Josephine loved to dance.
Previously Reviewed Books from this Author: Diary of a Baby Wombat, Christmas Wombat
Josephine the kangaroo loves dancing and she practices freely with her fellow Australian animals, such as the brolgas, lyrebirds and emus. Her brother repeatedly tells her that kangaroos don’t dance, but she never lets that deter her from her dream of being a real dancer. When the ballet comes to town, she hides outside the hall to watch them rehearsing. She watches them night after night, and practices everything she sees. On opening night, the prima ballerina twists her ankle and her understudy hurts her toe. The ballet director panics, but Josephine jumps through the window and dances on the stage. The director recognizes that Josephine knows the part and has the costume designer alter a tutu and shoes for her. When she takes the stage during the performance, the audience is surprised. Josephine dances her best and the audience cheers, calling her a magnificent dancer. Some of the audience members are so inspired, they take up dancing themselves.
As always, author Jackie French populates her story with animals from her homeland of Australia. I was familiar with most of the species in this book but I had to look up brolgas, because I had never heard of them before. Fans of Ms. French will recognize some cameo appearances from her other books, including my favorite, Mothball the wombat. I love the example of determination that Josephine sets here and the way she never lets her brother shake her resolve, but mostly I love the way that she expresses the joy she feels when she’s dancing. Illustrator Bruce Whatley captures this in her expressions and those on the faces of those watching her. This is definitely a strong recommendation for those who need a little reminder of the importance of never giving up on those ‘impossible’ dreams.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that, when reaching for your dreams, feel free to ignore those folks who laugh at you or say you can’t do it.