The protagonist pooch of this delightful tale doesn’t get to say a single word. Instead, his story is told most sympathetically by the little girl who owns him.

A most unlikely candidate for ballet – this puppy is short, fat, and rather clumsy looking with a coat that is coloured in with scribbles that go well beyond the lines, and a nose, mouth and ears that are most scruffy and scratched-in around the edges. However, the wide-eyed wonder in his big black peepers and his never-give-up attitude takes him a long way.

For indeed, this little dog with dancing diva ambitions is told not once, not twice, but apparently “a thousand times” that “Dogs don’t do ballet”.

It would seem that fate has determined his role in life then… But this little pooch is not having one jot of it; instead, the twirling, whirling, prancing, pirouetting little prima has more attitude than an entire school
of tutu’d girls

And – after patiently biding his time, Dog miraculously finds himself dancing the premiere role in the Royal Ballet’s performance after a very unfortunate accident landed the lead headfirst inside a tuba! Embarrassed and uncertain at first, Dog is soon swept up by the music, and the jeers from the crowd – that “Dogs don’t do ballet” – are soon replaced by a standing ovation as his performance stuns and delights.

See Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, talk about this book in her round-up of great children’s books at London’s 2012 Book Fair (main image above, simply click on the arrow to watch). 

Author Notes Anna Kemp grew up in a street with a gang of kids and spent her childhood sticker-swapping, playing Pac-man, and coordinating BMX displays. She was a bit of a late reader but now reads a lot in her job at Oxford University where she works on contemporary French literature. Her first picture book was Dogs Don’t Do Ballet.

Illustrator Profile Sarah Ogilvie was born in Edinburgh and lives in Newcastle Upon Tyne. She studied Illustration and Printmaking at Edinburgh College of Art and was named one of Booktrust’s Best New Illustrators in 2011. She has collaborated on three books with Anna Kemp.