Ballewiena Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

“For a dachshund with dancing feet, “sit” and “stay” are just so passé.

Possessed with the soul, if not the body, of a ballet dancer, Dotty would much rather pirouette and glissade down the sidewalk than heel like her polite poodle sisters Jazzebelle and Miffy—and so when her severe trainer Ms. Austere sends her to obedience school, she runs off in tears: “All I want to do is dance.” Despair is transformed to delight, however, after she meets Louis-Pierre, an acrobatic park squirrel whose offer to teach her a thing or two about training and discipline leaves her well prepared to walk onstage at the canine Golden Bow Talent Show and wow the crowd with her grand jeté and pas de chat.”

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Publishers Weekly

“Dotty meets a Balanchine-like squirrel, Louis-Pierre, who encourages her passion while demanding rigorous practice: “Look how much discipline you’ve gained, Pitou! The more focus you have, the better you dance.” This insistence on diligence and commitment propels Dotty to a triumphant performance at the dog talent show, which shows Ms. Austere the error of her ways, and infuses freshness into a familiar-feeling beat-of-one’s-own-drum story (Dotty even realizes why Ms. Austere’s other dogs practice unceasingly). 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.”

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For readers who don’t speak French, the phonetic pronunciations of terms for basic ballet moves are readily available on the endpapers, along with drawings of tutu-clad dachshunds performing each action. 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.”

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Foreword Review

“In this inspiring tale, a dance-dazzled dachshund, Dotty, cannot resist mimicking the ballet moves she loves—even when her person, Ms. Austere, issues other commands; even when she’s out on walks among other, baffled dogs. Rendered in grayscale against Dotty’s colorful world, frustrated Ms. Austere boots Dotty off to obedience courses with similarly colorless rules.”

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Seattle Book Review

“What is cuter than a small dog and a ballerina? How about a dancing dachshund? Ballewiena is the story of Dotty, who dreams of being a ballet dancer, but that is not something that dogs normally do. Will her owner see Dotty’s talent?

The text is great for both the younger and older child. Thank you so much to the publisher for including the pronunciation guide in the endpapers. Adults, look at them first if ballet terms are not your “forte.” I missed them initially. 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.

Star Count 5/5”

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Youth Services Book Review

“What did you like about the book?  A little dachshund dreams of being a ballerina, even though her owner fails to recognize her talent. Ms. Austere doesn’t appreciate Dotty’s dancing; she’s focused on training her toy poodles Jazzebelle and Miffy for their act in the Golden Bow Talent Show. Dotty’s a washout at obedience school and flees class in tears. In the park, she meets a squirrel named Louis-Pierre, who’s specialty seems to be parkour. In a Karate Kid-style sequence, he builds Dotty’s endurance so that she can shine at the Golden Bow. Ms. Austere eventually sees the little weiner dog’s true talent and signs her up for ballet classes. The delicate and detailed gouache pictures are cute and the message of following your dreams is perennially popular.”

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Children’s Literature

“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. The reader will walk away feeling that even when the road to fulfilling goals can be challenging, all is possible with perseverance, discipline, training, and the support of a friend. For anyone who is new to the ballet world, the inside front and back covers provide a lovely, illustrated dictionary of ballet terms found in this book.”

CM Magazine

“Author and illustrator Rebecca Bender’s charming and engaging picture book, Ballewiena, anthropomorphizes a dachshund who struggles to be accepted by her owner and peers….Young readers will be drawn to the colourful illustrations, highlighting a dog’s perspective….This familiar story about acceptance is ideal for young readers ages 4-7 as it consists of a slightly longer narrative, with appropriate vocabulary touching on such themes as resilience, discipline, the power of friendship, and accepting differences.


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YA Books Central

“BALLEWIENA is an adorable ballet story all about chasing after your dreams. Dotty knows dancing is in her blood and continues to do it unconsciously. It’s not that she’s trying to be rude. She just truly can’t stop herself from dancing. I like how she doesn’t allow others to push her down and suppress her talent. Even though it hurts her feelings and she gets upset about not fitting in the school, she stays true to herself and her heart. The illustrations are cutesy with soft colors and any dancer will enjoy the frequent use of ballet terms. A dog as the main character adds to the entertainment for children.

Final Verdict: 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.”

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Winnipeg Free Press

“Not everyone is born to follow the rules. That’s the underlying message in Ontario writer and illustrator Rebecca Bender’s picture book Ballewiena…Bender’s watercolour and gouache illustrations are comical and colourful. This book will bring smiles and attempts to replicate moves from young ballet enthusiasts.”

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Book Time

“One day, Dotty met a peculiar squirrel named Louise-Pierre, a performer in acrobatics, who invites Dotty to join him in his daily workouts. Dotty does so, practising even when she wants to give up until the day of the talent show arrives. Despite being kept on a short leash, will she be able to show people her talent? Ballewiena by Rebecca Bender and Pajama Press…is another cute book the importance of going after your dreams and to remember to just dance.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Let’s get some joy in our lives. Dance, dogs, and fulfillment will do just the trick with Rebecca Bender’s Ballewiena…Dotty may be a dog but she could be any child who feels her dream is being stifled and who wants to express herself through dance…Yes, Ballewiena is about ballet, and 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.

Rebecca Bender’s illustrations, created with gouache, watercolour, pen and ink, as well as digital media, carry those messages through worlds of colour, shape and attitude. Her assortment of canine and other characters conveys a depth of personality beyond the dance…Whether you’re a dancer, an appreciative fan or neither, Ballewiena reminds us to follow our passions and dance fully in our lives.”

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The International Educator

“Ballewiena by Rebecca Bender is a funny picture book to share with those kids who can’t sit still and who want others to discover their hidden talents!”

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Luminous Libro

“5 out of 5 stars…This is such a cute story! I loved the pretty art style, and all the sweet characters! The story uses all the popular French ballet terms, and there are pronunciation guides on the end papers.

Dotty is adorable, and I really liked that she had to work hard to accomplish her goals….Such a great message for kids to help them see that really great accomplishments require effort and consistent practice.”

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Karla Fasso (Instagram)

“This is a delightful, joyful, inspiring, and vibrant book…With beautiful, colorful, and cheerful illustrations Bender has created a charming story that everyone who has ever struggled in fulfilling their dreams can relate to. This book inspires confidence, self love and determination. The reader will walk away feeling that even when the road to fulfilling goals can be challenging, all is possible with the support of a friend, perseverance, discipline and training.”

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