Saturday 18 July 2015

Ballet Backflip: Ella Diaries #2

Ballet Backflip: Ella Diaries #2 by Meredith Costain, illustrated by Danielle McDonald (Scholastic Australia)
PB RRP $12.99
ISBN 978-1-74362-864-5

Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Ella is back with her second top secret diary. Grade 5 is not the easy year Ella was hoping for but when she gets to her ballet class all her worries are forgotten. That is until the role she desperately wants in the ballet performance is given to another dancer. Can she keep dancing or should she give in to playground pressure and join the gymnastics classes which Peach has convinced everyone to join? Even Ella’s traitorous BFF Zoe has given up ballet for gym.
The Ella Diaries is a series which will appeal to many young girls. Handwritten, the i’s are topped with hearts and there are many words that are emphasised and scribbled out. Ella’s spelling - Don Tay instead of Danté - and the sketches and diagrams, especially of gym and ballet moves make this feel like a real diary belonging to a ten year old – a very passionate one. I have a daughter who had to choose between ballet and gymnastics and I recognise the agonising decision.
Social issues are hard to navigate as young girls grow up. Fitting in becomes more important than standing out as individuals at this age. It takes strength to follow your own passions and go against the majority as Ella is discovering.
There is much to identify with in Ella. Girls between seven and eleven will get swept up in the pages of Ella’s diary as she jots down her secret thoughts, tries to keep her cool in the face of changing relationships and find the bravery to try new things.

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