Review: Angelina and the Princess
When life isn't fair, listen to your mom.
No burgeoning ballet career can be considered complete without reading through at least one of the Angelina Ballerina stories. That was true in the '90s when I first read the books, and it's still true today.
What started with a quick meet and greet of an anthropomorphic mouse who lives and trains in Chipping Cheddar (assumed to be 1920s London), Katharine Holabird's 1983 release of the illustrated children's book by the same name, Angelina Ballerina later evolved into a mouse-empire, spanning animated television and computerized characters. The storylines appealed to adults as well: the English National Ballet performed Angelina's Star Performance while on tour in the fall of 2007, and the Mayo Arts Performing Center was conducting an Angelina the Ballerina the Musical as late as January 2020.
Along with illustrator Helen Craig, the dynamic female duo has published more than twenty books in their series, dramatically outshining anything a certain other 'polka-dot-dressed mouse' ever did— at least, in this nostalgic-dreamer's opinion, anyways.
The Angelina Ballerina dance hasn't shown signs of stopping anytime soon, either; the five most recent books are all dated to 2021. I guess Katherine and Helen were every bit as bored through lockdown as the rest of us!
Out of all of the forms of media concerning the dancing mouse, who goes by the full name of Angelina Jeanette Mouseling, the book that has remained in its spot of honour on my bookshelf to this day is Angelina and the Princess. Published by ABC, All Books for Children, my copy was distributed in 1993—right at the start of my brief foray into dance (I was five).
I can't remember who gifted me the book. Most likely, it was something we saw at the library and later purchased a home-copy of. Back then, I was so into books, I'd cry when my favourites had to be returned on time. I never begged for the purchase, only cried at the thought of being parted from my friend (until the next renewal). With three kids in the house spaced barely 3 years apart, please forgive my frazzled mother for opening her pocketbook to buy some peace and quiet.
Angelina and the Princess stood the test of time in my home for two reasons, both of which concern the relationship between my mother and me.
One: I identify with the character involved as she is occasionally overly determined to do what she loves— even at the expense of her health.
And two: because she should have taken her mom's advice from the start.
(If you couldn't empathize with her earlier, surely now you can see why any mother would choose to spend her pennies on such a purchase!)
The plot is loosely described as follows:
The dance company Angelina trains with is set to perform for the Princess of Mouseland, which means auditions will be held for the prime parts in the performance. Angelina is determined to land something special, so instead of going to bed early, as instructed, she
...worked on her pliés and pirouettes far into the night.
When the petite perfectionist wakes up, she's sick, and her mom insists her daughter stay home and rest—which Angelina, of course, does not. Angelina sneaks out, dances terribly due to her cold, gets a minuscule part in the ballet and runs home crying to her mother, saying,
" ...I will never be a real ballerina. I am not going to ballet school anymore."
Her mother, fortunately, is both kind and wise. While lightly chastising Angelina for running away, she understands her daughter has learned her lesson. Later, after a good sleep, Angelina is in the right frame of mind to take on some advice. So, when her darling daughter whines the universal childhood rendition of "life's not fair," mom seizes the opportunity to pass on a classic piece of wisdom I still reflect upon.
"Maybe not," her mother said gently, "but things don't always go our way. You can still do your best with whatever part you are given, and that will help the whole performance."
After some soul searching, Angelina returns to the studio and works diligently at her part. Not one to be left out of learning, the hard-working ballerina also learns another part of the dance just for fun. When things go wrong at the last minute, it looks as if no one will be dancing at all—that is, until Angelina tiptoes to the rescue.
I won't spoil the ending.
My two cents: next time you're about to turn on the tablet loaded with a YouTube queue full of computerized Angelina stories, consider taking your child out to a bookstore after ballet class instead (preferably one that also sells coffee!) Ask the clerk to help you order a copy of Angelina and the Princess. It probably won't be in stock as it's no longer new. And when it arrives, take that chance my mom did to pass on the notion that giving up because "life's not fair" is not the wisest choice, even if it feels like the only option in our most challenging moments.
With a healthy dose of "mother knows best" disguised inside, this book is the equivalent of your kids' watermelon smoothie, which is secretly stuffed full of spinach, carrots or kale!
For fussy eaters, consider trying this Tropical Kale Smoothie by Ciara Atwell.
"A tasty dairy free smoothie packed with kale, pineapple, mango and melon. A super delicious and healthy start to the day!"
- 2 cups fresh kale
- 1 cup frozen exotic tropical fruit (mango, pineapple, melon, etc) and/or watermelon
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup coconut water
Add all the ingredients to a blender and blitz until smooth!
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And remember, it's always "better to be happy than dignified." - Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)
Stock images taken from pexels.com
About the Creator
Call Me Les
She/her | Cat enthusiast | "Word-Nerd" | Fueled by buttertarts
- Co-Founding admin at Vocal Social Society & Great Incantations
- Co-Founder of the Vocal Creators Chronicle
- Vocal Spotlight
- Book: Owl in a Towel
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