Little girls who want to be ballerinas are heavily represented on the picture book shelves. But what about the little girl who would rather catch frogs and lasso the cat than be a pretty princess? That’s where the new book Tutu’s Aren’t My Style steps in.
Emma is thrilled when she gets a package from her Uncle Leo. But when it turns out to be a ballet outfit, she is confused. She doesn’t know how to do ballet. However, despite the fact that she is clearly a tomboy, she doesn’t have anything against ballet or pink. She’s willing to give it a try. Advice from her neighbor, the mailman, and her brother doesn’t do much good. She decides that if everyone has rules for ballet, she will to. When Uncle Leo comes for a visit, her ballet debut is an extravaganza of kazoos and cartwheels, much to the surprise of her uncle, who had intended to send a safari explorer costume.
What I liked about this book is that it was willing for Emma to have it both ways. She was not a pretty princess who was dainty and elegant, but neither was she a stubborn wildchild. She doesn’t know much about ballet, but she’s willing to give it a try. She might prefer her pocket-filled shorts to a tutu and tights, but she voluntarily puts the outfit on. So many times when we see a book featuring a tomboy character the author goes into the opposite extreme, so that the little girl can’t stand pink or ribbons and throws a fit when made to do anything girly. Emma’s preferences are clear, but she does not live in a world of sharp dichotomies. Her wild energy make her dancing an expression of her own exuberant style whether she’s somersaulting in pink or tapping her toes in cowboy boots.