Ballewiena cover

By Rebecca Bender


The award-winning creator of the Giraffe and Bird books introduces Dotty the dancing dachshund, celebrating the gifts of those who struggle to “sit” and “stay”

Dotty the dachshund knows she was born to dance ballet. When told to sit, she does a plié. Asked to stay, she does an assemblé. Fed up with Dotty’s lack of discipline, Mrs. Austere sends her to the Canine School of Obedience, but Dotty just can’t seem to learn. Heartbroken, the little dog flees to the park—where an unexpected new friend is waiting. Could he know the secret to helping Dotty dance out her dreams with her own style of discipline?

In Ballewiena, author-illustrator Rebecca Bender, creator of the award-winning Giraffe and Bird books, introduces a new volume of animal hi-jinks. Tucked into the witty language and amusing antics is a story about growth mindset and a perceptive note of encouragement for anyone who was made for activity in a world that expects stillness.

Available In


Ages 4-7
ISBN: 978-1-77278-137-3
List Price: $22.95 CAD / $18.95 USD
Hardback with reinforced binding & with printed dust jacket
Trim Size: 10.00 x 9.00 inches / 25.4 x 22.86cm
Pages: 32

Publication date: June 28, 2022

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Ingram Publisher Services

Carton Quantity: 34

About this book


Praise for Ballewiena

2022 CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection

Dr. Larry Recommends “Ten Picture Books, June 2022” Feature

“A grand addition to the animal corps de ballet.”— Kirkus Reviews

The gouache, watercolor, pencil, ink, and digital illustrations brim with joie de vivre as the wiry pooch spins, leaps, and pursues her dream—readers may find themselves becoming budding balletomanes as the story unfolds.”—Publishers Weekly

The story is well paced, and the lively pictures, created with gouache, watercolor, ink, pencil, and digital elements, portray Dotty as a determined ballerina, performing impressive feats while balanced on her tiny yet strong back legs. A picture-book romp for children who dream of ballet.”—Booklist

“In this inspiring tale, a dance-dazzled dachshund, Dotty, cannot resist mimicking the ballet moves she loves.”—Foreword Review

“I loved the potential for expanding children’s and adults’ knowledge of real ballet terms with a sweet story… it’s a great way to introduce ballet or dancing to a child who might have never thought they could do those things.” —Seattle Book Review

The delicate and detailed gouache pictures are cute and the message of following your dreams is perennially popular.”—Youth Services Book Review

“This is a delightful, joyful, inspiring, and vibrant book… With beautiful, colorful, and cheerful illustrations, Bender has created a charming story sure to be relatable for everyone who has ever struggled in fulfilling their dreams. This book inspires confidence, self-love and determination.”—Children’s Literature

“Young readers will be drawn to the colourful illustrations, highlighting a dog’s perspective….This familiar story about acceptance is ideal for young readers…touching on such themes as resilience, discipline, the power of friendship, and accepting differences.”—CM Magazine

Overall, BALLEWIENA holds a powerful message for young aspiring dancers and I would recommend it to fans of ballet. It’s also a cute story for children to enjoy and learn to follow their hearts.”—YA Books Central

“Bender’s watercolour and gouache illustrations are comical and colourful. This book will bring smiles and attempts to replicate moves from young ballet enthusiasts.”—Winnipeg Free Press

“Ballewiena by Rebecca Bender and Pajama Press…is another cute book [about] the importance of going after your dreams and to remember to just dance.”—Book Time

“Let’s get some joy in our lives. Dance, dogs, and fulfillment will do just the trick… [Ballewiena] would make a great gift for any child who enjoys dance classes, but it has important messages about following your aspirations and being true to yourself while ensuring that you put the work in so it becomes a goal and not a pipe-dream.”—CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Ballewiena…is a funny picture book to share with those kids who can’t sit still and who want others to discover their hidden talents!”—The International Educator

“5 out of 5 stars….This is such a cute story! I loved the pretty art style, and all the sweet characters!… Such a great message for kids to help them see that really great accomplishments require effort and consistent practice.”—Luminous Libro

“This is a delightful, joyful, inspiring, and vibrant book…With beautiful, colorful, and cheerful illustrations Bender has created a charming story that…inspires confidence, self-love and determination.”—Karla Fasso (Instagram)

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Additional Resources

Teaching Guide

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