Little Tilly Tutu – so called because she ‘loves ballet SO much’ – is getting ready for her ballet studio’s annual show. Her class are all baby swans – we are left to guess the ballet, but since this book is definitely, and only, for ballet-mad little girls, that shouldn’t be difficult. The lead-up to the big performance is charted: practising the steps, learning to keep time with everyone else, getting ready for the dress rehearsal, watching the big girls who are also in the recital. The only dramas are minor: the costumes that arrive for the show are found to be blue instead of pink and after the performance Tilly forgets to take her curtsey. But of course, all is well; the girls look just as cute in blue and Tutu Tilly has a curtsey all to herself.
The illustrations are realistic and true to the textual narrative, picking up on Geras’s words and embellishing them – a touch of the Helen Oxenbury’s here. Plenty of page space is given to the young performers, and there is a lovely sense of being in a ballet studio during rehearsals. The spread depicting Tilly’s dream of swans is the only one in the book that doesn’t ring true and why the book is titled My Ballet Dream is a bit baffling. Its strength is the realism of the little girls, their enthusiasm, and reactions to the various very minor mishaps during the dress rehearsal. This book will be loved by little ballerinas. Previous Tilly Tutu titles are Little Ballet Star and The Ballet Class.