Zuri Ray tries ballet

Tami Charles

Book - 2021

Zuri Ray loves trying extraordinary new things but when Jessie, her Best Friend From Diapers, chooses ballet Zuri Ray finds it too challenging until the teacher encourages her to be herself.

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room jE/Charles Checked In
Children's Room jE/Charles Checked In
Picture books
New York : Harper [2021]
First edition
Physical Description
pages cm
Ages 4-8.
Grades K-1.
Main Author
Tami Charles (author)
Other Authors
Sharon Sordo (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Get ready for a hilarious adventure with a memorable best-friend duo. Zuri is an adorable and precocious little girl who loves soccer, ghost-hunting, and science. Her best friend, Jessie Colón, wants more than anything in the world for Zuri to try ballet camp, so they both sign up. After several hilarious attempts to like ballet, Zuri learns that it is not her forte. She finally gets through to Jessie after a big blow up during class. The two mend their differences and learn that it is okay for best friends to have different interests. The illustrations are engaging with sweet, rounded figures and a palette favoring shades of pink, purple, and blue. Zuri, herself, has a compact figure with explosive curls and warm brown skin that reflects her biracial family. This work is a great choice for units on friendship, managing conflict, and learning concepts related to personal interests and hobbies. Great pairings include Mercer Mayer's Just My Friend and Me and A Friend like You (2016), by Andrea Schomburg and Barbara Röttgen. Grades K-3. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Zuri Ray and her BFFD ("Best Friend From Diapers") Jessie Colón take turns finding "anything-but-ordinary things" to do together. Jessie picks a weeklong ballet camp, and promises that it will be "fabulous, dahling!" But once at the barre, Charles (All Because You Matter) writes, Zuri feels out of place amid the other "proper" and "prim" amateur dancers; a pirouette attempt sends her sprawling. Reminded by her Black mother and white father that the family motto is "When the going gets tough... the Rays get tougher," Zuri embraces the class on her own terms: in a soccer uniform with moves inspired by the playing field. Jessie is furious, but the wise teacher counsels that "both soccer and ballet require focus, technique and dedication," repairing the friendship before the kids move on to the next activity. Digital cartoons by Sordo (the Ana & Andrew series) have the bright-eyed characters of contemporary message-driven animation, with lots of ancillary moments, including two brief dress-up segments, to add visual oomph. Balletomanes may not appreciate Zuri's frustration, but it's nice to see a variation on the traditional ballet take, one that resolves into a gentle comedy of fearless girlhood and friendship. Ages 4–8. Author's agent: Lara Perkins, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator's agent: James Burns, the Bright Agency. (June) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

K-Gr 3—Radiating warmth and care, Charles (All Because You Matter) presents Zuri Ray, a spirited, fun-loving young Black girl who learns to stay true to herself in the face of her newest challenge: ballet camp. When Zuri tries ballet classes with Jessie, her best friend, she soon realizes that mimicking Jessie's movements and dress are neither easy nor to her liking. Their instructor, Madame Adele, teaches Zuri to embrace her own interests instead, encouraging Zuri to find her own way of enjoying dance even if it looks different than Jessie's. Charles not only enfolds Zuri in precious moments of motivation when adult figures support her, but also in important moments of self-reflection when she finds the courage to discover what makes her feel "I like me like this." As a lovely testament to Zuri's newfound confidence, Zuri and Jessie's bond of friendship is all the stronger after discovering their interests do not have to align perfectly in order to have fun and explore new things together. In easy-to-read layouts, Sordo uses every swooping figure line to express emotion and to depict the active richness of the characters amidst smooth washes of purples, blues, and pinks, echoing Zuri's determined, playful energy. VERDICT Young elementary-age readers will adore the vividly animated characters and feel encouraged by Zuri Ray and her example of finding compassion for herself and practicing honesty in friendship. A wonderful addition to any collection.—Rachel Mulligan, Westampton, NJ Copyright 2021 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

When her best friend asks her to join a ballet camp, Zuri Ray, a spunky girl with a big heart, can’t say no and decides to give classical ballet a new spin. 35,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Zuri Ray loves trying extraordinary new things but when Jessie, her Best Friend From Diapers, chooses ballet Zuri Ray finds it too challenging until the teacher encourages her to be herself.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

From New York Times bestselling author Tami Charles and rising star illustrator Sharon Sordo comes the first book in a charming picture book series about a fun, spunky girl with a huge heart! Meet Zuri Ray. She’s always willing to go the extra mile for family and friends and is up for any challenge. At least, that was before her best friend, Jessie, asked her to join a ballet camp. Now Zuri isn’t sure if she’s up for everything. While Jessie can’t wait to chassé and plié while wearing tight hair buns and frilly tutus, that doesn’t sound like Zuri at all! But she can’t let her friend down. Maybe classical ballet just needs a new spin . . . Perfect for fans of Fancy Nancy and Fresh Princess, Zuri Ray Tries Ballet encourages kids to follow their hearts and stay true to themselves!