The Story of Angelina Ballerina
Katharine Holabird, the author of Angelina Ballerina, tells the story of how her best-selling star mouse was inspired by her own daughers...
Angelina was inspired by my daughters, Tara and Alexandra. For her fourth birthday, all Tara wanted was a frilly pink tutu - the frillier the better - and pink ballet slippers to match. We found the pinkest tutu available, and once Tara squeezed her round little body into it, she never wanted to take it off. Tara was so thrilled with her ballet tutu that she wore it for all occasions, adding a touch of pink glamour to family trips to Sainsbury's and dog walks on Hampstead Heath...
Alexandra naturally wanted her own frilly outfit, and soon we had two tiny ballerinas twirling madly around the house, so we decided it was time for ballet lessons.. We found a local ballet school within walking distance of our house in North London, with a charming teacher called Miss Child, and soon the girls were practising their plies and performing as Flower Fairies along with their friends.
I was impressed by my daughters' determination to learn all the positions - how they struggled to turn out their toes and bend their knees! For those magical early childhood years, Tara and Alex remained passionate about ballet lessons, and never seemed to stop dancing. There was a dark side to their devotion, however, when they had terrible meltdowns over lost ballet slippers, or had stage fright in the middle of the much-anticipated end of term performance. So there were lots of tears as well as lots of joy, but it was all part of growing up.
My daughters' dancing brought back memories of my own childhood growing up with three sisters in Chicago. My mother was an actress, and helped us create costumes for our dramatic performances. My sisters and I were convinced we were princesses or prima ballerinas, and spent many happy hours in our make believe fantasies. My parents both loved the theatre and ballet, and I remember seeing Swan Lake as a young child, and being completely mesmerized by the exquisite ballerinas leaping in the air. So my childhood was also an inspiration for Angelina's character.
I was very fortunate to meet Helen Craig when I moved to London, and then my husband Michael's company, Aurum Press, published her very first books, a collection of tiny 'Mouse House' ABC's and 123's. I was a Literary major in college, and was now working at home as a free lance writer, so when Michael suggested a storybook with Helen's illustrations, I was absolutely inspired. I sat down at the kitchen table to write, with Tara and Alexandra pirouetting around me, and out came the story of the little white mouseling who dreamed of becoming a prima ballerina.
That was 25 years ago, and I am absolutely delighted that Angelina's dreams have continued to captivate the hearts of new generations of adorable little dancers and their families.
an amazing evening at English Ballet's performance of Angelina's Star Performance - watch a clip
to get excited - plus copies of the book for runners up.
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