By Emily Joof. Illustrated by Sawyer Cloud. £10.00. Published by mbife books. Suitable for 3-8 year olds.
Reviewed by Motherdom Editorial Board member, women’s health practitioner and Founder of OneFitMama, Sophia Cooper.
As a parent of three mixed heritage children and in particular a mixed race daughter, I know the struggles of finding inclusive storybooks. So I was pleased to be offered the opportunity to review Ballet with Heart. It’s clear that the author, Emily Joof, has written this story with her own children in mind. She told Motherdom that: ‘I am writing him [my son] and my daughter a story where they face their feelings, and fears and dance their way to happiness.’
The book has the most beautiful illustrations, which are colourful and captivating. With hues of purple and deep red and varying skin tones, the pictures really do capture the inclusive environment the author is trying to create. A ballet book without a cotton candy pink page in sight is certainly a rarity and one I personally enjoyed.
The story itself is about a brother and sister who attend their first ballet lesson, and the joy and delight they find in finally being in a class with other children who love to dance as much as they do.
The wonderful thing about Ballet with Heart is that it is inclusive both to children of colour but also offering a unique representation of boys of colour in a ballet setting. Try as I might, I could not find another book with a black boy ballet dancer, which highlights the need for books just like this.
Ballet with Heart is also elegantly subtle in its quest for diversity, without mentioning colour or gender, and creates a safe space for children to just enjoy the story whilst seeing other children just like them on the pages.
I would highly recommend this story for anyone looking to add a beautiful and diverse book to their children’s bookshelf.