Today Biblio Links welcomes picture book author Anne Marie Pace! Anne Marie’s fourth picture book was released this summer to rave reviews, and it is guaranteed to make Vampirina Ballerina fans squeal with delight. (If you haven’t met Vampirina yet, then get thee to a bookstore!)
Here’s the description of the first Vampirina book:
Oh, to be a ballerina! It’s a challenge for any little girl, but even more so if you happen to be a vampire like Vampirina. First of all, you have to find a class that meets at night. Then you have to figure out how to perfect your form when you can’t see yourself in the mirror? And then there’s wearing pink (not the most flattering of colors if you happen to be undead) and that nagging urge to take a little nip out of the other dancers. And worse of all… STAGE FRIGHT!!!
…and the adorable second book:
Before Vampirina can host her very first sleepover there are a few things she must keep in mind: be polite and offer her guests food (like blood pudding); plan some games like scavenger hunt (but keep the clues simple so no one gets lost); and don’t forget to dance! Vampirina may be a little nervous at first, but by following a few simple rules she will host the Best Sleepover Ever.
I promise you will fall in love with this ballet-loving vampire who just wants to fit in. The Vampirina books are the kind that offer something different each time you read them. My students love Vampirina, and the first read-through with them is always a delight. But the more kids hear or read the book and examine the detail in the illustrations, the more they glean from the story. They always make text-to-self connections about times when they felt different from their peers.
In the second Vampirina book, I know my students will make these same types of connections, but this time centered on family. Many of my students are immigrants, and their families bring their own rich and layered cultural traditions with them to this country. Sometimes it makes them stand out from other families, and it can be tricky for a kid to balance their home culture with that of the community in which they now live. I can’t wait to share this new Vampirina book with my students.
I asked author and former teacher Anne Marie Pace how her Vampirina books might be used in the classroom.
Anne Marie Pace: I can think of several types of kid who might need a Vampirina book. There are certainly people who see a little girl ballerina on the cover and assume it’s meant for small girls who love to dance, and definitely the books work for those girls. In fact, even last year, in the first months after release, I received photographs of more than a few girls who had dressed as Vampirina for Halloween.
But surprisingly, when I’ve done school visits, I find that third and fourth grade boys really get the book as a whole. They really appreciate the tiny creepy details that go over younger children’s heads. For an example of what I mean, take a look at the ways in which LeUyen Pham portrays Dame Margot Fonteyn, the famous ballerina, throughout the book.
Speaking of tiny details, I’d say a reader who loves examining illustrations closely would also be a great candidate for the Vampirina books because LeUyen Pham includes incredible telling detail throughout. I am still discovering new things.
Another reader who might like Vampirina would be a child who feels a little different from his or her peers and needs reassurance that being different is not only a-ok, it’s actually pretty cool. And of course, they’re good for anyone who likes to laugh!
Biblio Links: If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using your book in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see or hear?
Anne Marie Pace: I hope you’d see a lot of kids laughing! The teacher would have lots to point out to the kids. She could talk about Dame Margot Fonteyn, whose influence figures prominently in Vampirina’s life; and they might discuss how we can look up to role models. They could trace the numerous subplots that are present in the illustrations. And they could move! Because Vampirina is a dancer, she loves movement. There’s also a wonderful teachers’ guide developed by one Natalie Lorenzi. It’s available for download on my website. There are wonderful activities in that guide, from patterning to tooth brushing!
Biblio Links: Creating the teacher’s guide for Vampirina was so much fun! The story and illustrations lend themselves so well to activities across the curriculum. With the story’s theme of fitting in, school guidance counselors will want to add these to their shelves, too.
Where can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?
Anne Marie Pace: My website is a starting point: http://www.annemariepace.com. There are also a lot of links on the Vampirina Ballerina Facebook page, at http://www.facebook.com/vampirinaballerina. And Linda Urban did a series of blog posts with both me and LeUyen Pham, the illustrator. Those links are here, here, and here.
You can also follow Anne Marie on Twitter: @AnneMariePace.
Look for Anne Marie’s other picture books published by Scholastic Book Clubs. Click on either book cover to learn more.
The teacher’s guide link to the first Vampirina book is here.
The Nitty Gritty~
Publication Dates: Fall 2012 (Vampirina Ballerina) and Summer 2013 (Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover)
ISBN-13: 978-1423157533 (Vampirina Ballerina)
ISBN-13: 978-1423175704 (Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover)
Interest Level: Ages 2 to 6
Number of Pages: 40