I is for Rachel Isadora
I have loved Rachel Isadora's books since I first read Max as an awkward elementary schooler who had her first growth spurt entirely too early. It is the story of a rumpled, lanky boy who loves to play baseball but kind of accidently and begrudgingly ends up falling in love with ballet class. I have never been good at doing what everyone else was doing or even just one thing at a time and perhaps that is why Max's story spoke to me or maybe it was that I identified with his floppy appearance. Regardless, it captured a corner of my memory in the way that only truly amazing authors can.
Rachel Isadora is best known for Ben's Trumpet for which she was a Caldecott honor winner. She has written over 100 children's books since leaving her career as a ballerina. I love all of her work, but here are some of our favorites. I divided them into categories because there are just so many.
These are gorgeously illustrated adaptations of stories you know. Most of these are newer books and they are the ones that my children first read by this author. We focused on these for our author study because my children were fascinated by maps and Africa and these books so beautifully illustrate this colorful continent.
There Was a Tree
This was their first Isadora book and is still a favorite. I love the incorporation of rebus icons. 2+
Beautiful version of my daughter's favorite fairy tale. We talked a lot about the similarities and differences between this version and her favorite version. 3+
The Ugly Duckling
I love the illustrations in this sweet version of the ugly duckling. 2+
The Princess and the Pea
The stack of gorgeous quilts is my favorite part of this story. So many amazing colors incorporated here. 3+
Hansel and Gretel
A unique take on this familiar tale. Her depictions of Hansel and Gretel are darling and the lush, African forest makes for a brilliant setting. 3+
Old Mikamba Had a Farm
We are huge fans of singing books and this is another. This story is a great introduction to the interesting animals of Africa. 2+
The Twelve Dancing Princesses
Vibrant interpretation of this classic fairy tale. 3+
The 12 Days of Christmas
This is my favorite version of this traditional song and I included it in our 25 Books of Christmas Books two years in a row. 2+
*Chart similarities and differences
*Study animals found in the illustrations. Old Mikamba Had a Farm has some interesting facts at the back to get your started.
*Make your own rebus song or story like There Was a Tree
*Compare the fairy tales to other versions.
With the perspective of a ballerina, Isadora is uniquely positioned to explain ballet to young children in a clear and approachable way.
This is the first Rachel Isadora I read and I read it over a decade ago. It is still lovely. A little boy who loves baseball player gets introduced to ballet at his sister's lesson. 3+
On Your Toes: A Ballet ABC
Behind the scenes of a ballet company that offers vocabulary and information in an abc format. 3+
Bea at Ballet
Perfect introduction to ballet for the littlest ballerinas. 2+
Not Just Tutus
This is a collection of mini-poems about ballet that my daughter adores. Being a ballerina is so much more than tutus. 2+
Cute, playful book for babies and toddlers. She also has a similar Peekaboo Bedtime book. 1+
I love this little book and my kids do too. A fun walk around the neighborhood with a little girl who greets her friendly neighbors in a myriad of languages. 2+
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