Sunday, September 6, 2009

Book Review #18: TOO TOO MANY TUTUS by Suzanne Davis Marion; illustrated by Marj Hales

by Suzanne Davis Marion
Illustrated by Marj Hales

BookSurge Publishing (Feb 2009)
Picture Book
32 Pages

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Christina has a problem. Her ballet class is coming up, and she must decide which one of her many tutus to wear. She lays them all carefully on her bed to help her decide. The decision is difficult, because the colors are each so vibrant and lovely. She imagines herself inspired to dance in a unique and special way in each tutu, with each color evoking its own particular imagery. In her blue tutu she could dance by the sea, with the birds and fishes joining in. In her green tutu she could do a forest dance among the trees, and in the meadows. Her orange tutu creates images of a joyous dance in the firelight at sunset. There are other colors too, each suggesting its own special mood. At last she receives some wise counsel in solving her dilemma, and helping her to make the correct choice.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Everyone knows it can be difficult for a small child to make a choice from too, too many options. With the time for ballet class fast approaching, little Christina must select just the right tutu from the colorful plethora hanging in her closet. TOO TOO MANY TUTUS is the sweet and charming story of how she makes her choice.

Christina asks both her mother and father for advice, but it is her older brother, Max, who suggests that she lay each tutu out on her bed so she can see and consider all of the colors. This is the core of the story. One by one, Christina imagines herself dancing in celebration of each color:

"If I wore my pink tutu I could dance among the roses. Maybe someone would see me dancing and think I was one of the roses, blowing in the breeze. That would be too too much fun."

Eventually, a quick lesson in color theory leads Christina to make the most perfect choice.

My young niece really enjoys this story, and we've read it many times. The watercolor illustrations beautifully express a child's imagination. Like most children, Christina sometimes sees herself as an older girl, and I thought that was a nice touch. Watercolor is the perfect medium for this story because the colors are vibrant yet dreamy at the same time. It was also particularly nice that the joy of each color is expressed through elements of the natural world - trees and flowers, sunshine and water. There are no gumdrops or frosted cupcakes associated with Christina's sweet tutus. I also liked that it was her big brother, Max, who offered Christina the advice of how to compare all the various tutus.

The one place I stumbled in my enjoyment of this book was in the depiction of the orange tutu. Christina imagines herself dancing around a big blazing fire, and that imagery made me uncomfortable. No one else I asked seemed concerned about it, though, and I checked with several parents. The page didn't stand out with my own niece. I suppose in the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that I was burned while playing near a trash fire when I was Christina's age. The page may not impact most children or adults, but I believe that a little more thought could have linked the color orange to desert sunsets, butterflies, exotic birds, tiger lillies, goldfish, even pumpkins.

TOO TOO MANY TUTUS is a sweet and lovely book that most parents and tiny dancers will love.

"If I wore the blue tutu I could whirl and twirl under the bright blue sky. I could dance on the beach beside the blue sea, and all the fish and sea birds could watch me dance."

About the Author (from Amazon):
Author Suzanne Davis Marion grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and has lived in Houston, Texas for many years. She is a singer, pianist, and composer. Several years ago she established Lullabies by Suzanne (, offering personalized lullabies and play songs for babies and children. She enjoys performing with other musicians on a regular basis. She and her husband Stuart enjoy visits with their three sons and daughters-in-law, and their seven grandchildren. The latter provide endless inspiration for stories.

Houston artist Marj Hales is originally from North Dakota. She received a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from the University of Oklahoma. Happy watercolors of bright florals and whimsical animals are among her favorite subjects, reflecting an inner joy that she hopes to communicate to others.

Thank you to the author for supplying me with my review copy.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I like your ideas about the alternatives to dancing around the fire!

Laughing Stars said...

What a lovely picture book. :-)

Wanda said...

Dancing around and with fire has been a traditional aspect of many cultures from around the world. Perhaps the authors intent was for readers to imagine the joy and excitement of just such a ceremony?

It sounds like this book has alot to offer; colour lesson, decision making skills. I'll keep this one in mind while looking for books for my younger nieces. Great review, thanks Gwendolyn!

Zibilee said...

Too bad my kids are too old for this, the illustrations are beautiful!

Jemima said...

I also reviewed this book a little while ago:

I must say your review was a lot more detailed and informative than mine! I can tell you put a lot of thought and effort into it and it puts my little review to shame. It was a lovely book and my daughters still read it. I hadn't thought about the fire scene, but I see your point.Thanks for the great review. I enjoyed reading it.