Zuri Ray Tries ­Ballet

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Jun. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062914897.
K-Gr 3–Radiating warmth and care, Charles (All Because You Matter) presents Zuri Ray, a spirited, fun-loving young Black girl who learns to stay true to herself in the face of her newest challenge: ballet camp. When Zuri tries ballet classes with Jessie, her best friend, she soon realizes that mimicking Jessie’s movements and dress are neither easy nor to her liking. Their instructor, Madame Adele, teaches Zuri to embrace her own interests instead, encouraging Zuri to find her own way of enjoying dance even if it looks different than Jessie’s. Charles not only enfolds Zuri in precious moments of motivation when adult figures support her, but also in important moments of self-reflection when she finds the courage to discover what makes her feel “I like me like this.” As a lovely testament to Zuri’s newfound confidence, Zuri and Jessie’s bond of friendship is all the stronger after discovering their interests do not have to align perfectly in order to have fun and explore new things together. In easy-to-read layouts, Sordo uses every swooping figure line to express emotion and to depict the active richness of the characters amidst smooth washes of purples, blues, and pinks, echoing Zuri’s determined, playful energy.
VERDICT Young elementary-age readers will adore the vividly animated characters and feel encouraged by Zuri Ray and her example of finding compassion for herself and practicing honesty in friendship. A wonderful addition to any collection.

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