LEOPOLD LOVES TO DANCE.
He leaps gracefully on the basketball court. In his ballet class he wants to be a dancing ostrich in the recital. But their teacher, Miss Linda, says they are all going to be bumblebees. Leopold wants to be a killer bee. Miss Linda says no. All the bees must be the same and remember all the steps while pointing their toes.
When the costumes arrive, they are scratchy and yellow, with black stripes. Leo doesn't like the leotard. What's wrong with his sock feet and shorts?
On performance day, Leopold is not happy onstage. His ballet shoes feel too short. His bumblebee headband is too tight. His leotard is hot and itchy.
HE WISHES HE'D GONE TO THE BATHROOM ONE MORE TIME!
The lights are so bright that he can't see where he is on stage. Leo forgets the dance steps. His shoes pinch. He takes off his too-tight bumblebee headband. But he's still too hot.
SO HE TAKES OFF THE LEOTARD.
HE FEELS THE BREEZE! THE MUSIC SOARS!
It's a ballet finale that that the audience and his family will never forget, in Risa Wallace's newest, Leopold's Leotard (Orca Books, 2021). Artist Risa Hugo's colored pencil and gouache illustrations manage to portray her charming little dancers while managing to figleaf the main character's au naturel performance right down to his final wave from halfway behind the curtain.
Quips Kirkus Reviews, "The bright, delicate illustrations portray a very free-spirited (and self-absorbed) boy as well as the varying moods and amusing reactions of his fellow dancers. Whether or not Leopold can be viewed as a role model for aspiring dancers is open to discussion, however."