The Crab Ballet – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Ladies and gentlemen! Please silence your cell phones and keep those crinkly candy wrappers in your pockets. For your viewing pleasure, I present to you The Crab Ballet!!

Sea creatures spring to life in this lyrical, rhyming performance of a picture book, complete with French classical ballet terminology.

But first! First! the announcer must make sure that everyone is settled in while whetting their appetites for the show.

Text ©Renée LaTulippe Illustration ©Cécile Metzger

Welcome. Enter. Sit right there

upon our finest driftwood chair.

Enjoy our sunset seaside show—

our dancers are beyond compare.

The squid, turtles, sea horses, etc. (the corps de ballet) start the show, but the real stars are the crab divas.

Text ©Renée LaTulippe Illustration ©Cécile Metzger

Now dancers scamper, skip, and soar,

a pas de chat across the floor,

then come to rest in posed tableau.

A hush befalls the hovering corps…

as crabs pop up from bubbling holes,

dozens of crustacean souls.

First the eyes, then toe, toe, toe,

dancers playing tidal roles.

This book does not talk down to kids. It lifts them up with beautiful language that is perfectly matched with elegant illustrations, depicting a fantasy undersea ballet world. The author’s smooth insertion of ballet terms within the rhyming format is delightful. A sea urchin performs en pointe, two dolphins dance a pas de deux, a medusa glissades. The movement descriptions fit each creature so perfectly! I was tempted to toss a bouquet of anemones at the last spread as the crabs take a final grand jeté into the deep.

The author’s rhyme scheme, aaba, and occasional slant rhyme prevent the stanzas from becoming singsongy. Presented in two acts, along with a clever insertion of intermission, this story creates an engaging, satisfying performance. I could see a class performing this story on stage, complete with costumes.

Bravi! to the author, illustrator, editor, and art director at Cameron Books! Back matter includes a glossary of ballet terms.


Watch a short Sesame Street performance of the Dance Theater of Harlem

Make a paper plate crab.

Make origami sea stars, crabs, and dolphins.

Watch a video showing the boys’/men’s program of the Citi Ballet School of San Francisco or ballet as an an extreme sport.

Title: The Crab Ballet

Author: Renée LaTulippe

Illustrator: Cécile Metzger

Publisher: Cameron Books, 2022

Themes: ballet, sea creatures

Ages: preK- 3rd grade

For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.

10 thoughts on “The Crab Ballet – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Maria Marshall says:

    Renee is such a masterful poet and she has created a beautiful celebration of sealife and ballet. I had to check out the “extreme sport” video – it was impressive! Thanks for the great review, Jilanne.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Well, one must grant those divas a little leeway. It is in their nature, after all, to enjoy those curtain calls. And yes, I wanted to make sure that those who continue to think ballet is only for girls might reconsider their bias. Thank you for writing this beautiful book! Cheers!

  2. Sue Heavenrich says:

    I love Renee’s lyrical writing – and the illustrations are wonderful. You’ve got some fun activities, too! (heck, I might pull out a paper plate and have some art-fun!) Definitely putting this one on my reading list.

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