Princess Naomi is beyond annoyed with her little sister, Princess Miranda. First, Miranda spilled the last of the milk, leaving Naomi without any left for her breakfast cereal. Then, she started singing Naomi’s least favorite song at the top of her lungs. Aaaaagh! Naomi gets so irritated that she storms out of the castle, mounts her horse En Tournant and gallops off. Soon, though, she finds herself embroiled in a fantastic new adventure involving a lost little unicorn and learning all over again the meaning and value of family.
Princess Naomi Helps a Unicorn by Once Upon a Dance would be a delightful fairy tale for children ages four to seven were it presented as a story alone, what with Ethan Roffler’s charming and colorful pencil-and-watercolor illustrations and the evocatively sensory details of Naomi’s experiences. Yet this book, as with others in the series by the author, is special: it is a “Dance-It-Out” book.
“What is a ‘Dance-It-Out’ book?” you might ask. Well, we’re all familiar with the idea of children “acting out” a story to increase their engagement and comprehension. Once Upon a Dance’s “Dance-It-Out” series takes that tried-and-true method a step further — into the realm of dance, specifically ballet.
Accompanying each page of the book are insets of real-life ballerina Konora explaining and demonstrating dance moves that go along with the story. Konora’s moves focus on the connections between emotions and body language, the physical experience of interacting with different types of surrounding space, and mimicking the actions of the characters. Along the way, she works in instruction on how to perform chassés, a classical ballet move that aptly mimics the galloping of Naomi’s horse as well as the unicorn she meets.
Such physical activities not only give little readers some (perhaps much-needed) exercise, but help them to connect with their own bodies, senses and emotions. Princess Naomi Helps a Unicorn and, by extension the rest of the growing “Dance-It-Out” series, are also perfect for teaching basic dance concepts to budding ballet dancers.
Other books in the series include Brielle’s Birthday Ball; The Cat with the Crooked Tail; Danny, Denny, and the Dancing Dragon; Petunia Perks Up; and Joey Finds His Jump! Even more are in the stages of writing and production. Each focuses on a different set of ballet moves; parents and teachers can use each book to build upon the skills learned in the previous ones, or as standalones. It is also worth noting that Once Upon a Dance also publishes a series for children ages six and older on “Dancing Shapes” that is more oriented to instruction and exercises than the playful “Dance-It-Out” series.
Whether your little one dreams of being a ballet dancer, needs help with physical coordination, or simply needs to step away from the screen and move more, Princess Naomi Helps a Unicorn and the other books in the “Dance-It-Out” series fit the bill — with engaging and fantastical stories to boot.
—BookTrip (Cynthis Conrad)
A precious book that instills the importance of kindness, compassion and family in a uniquely fun way both parents and children could enjoy!
“Princess Naomi Helps a Unicorn” by Once Upon a Dance immediately got my attention because of its unique concept and creativity. It was the first time I saw a book that combined a fairy tale story with practical steps that could help one to learn dance movements. This is indeed a very engaging book that parents can read to their children not only during bedtime but throughout the day.
In this current time when most families suffer from boredom due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we could use all the help we could get not only to keep our children busy but also to use this precious time in teaching them valuable life lessons. For parents who wish to give their children a treat and a timeless treasure, this is the book that can help them accomplish both.
Children who find it hard to play outdoors can especially benefit from joyfully moving their bodies as they follow the steps suggested by this book. It is particularly helpful that they can use their imagination to immerse themselves in its imaginative story about a princess and a unicorn while doing so.
At the end of the day, nothing beats the unforgettable wisdom one acquires about family. Children can learn in a fun and healthy way while enjoying valuable bonding time with their parents and other family members.
I highly recommend this book. It has attractive illustrations, an imaginative and exciting story, an ingenious way of helping children learn the value of physical movement and an inspiring message that could guide them long after they have grown.
In a castle on a hill, a king and queen live with their two lovely daughters. Princesses Naomi and Miranda are usually quite close, but like any siblings, they have their fair share of conflicts. One day, Princess Naomi becomes so angry at her sister that she leaves the castle for the sanctuary of the stables and her beloved horse, En Tournant. As they ride around the nearby countryside, Princess Naomi discovers another creature in need and she watches as this new sense of purpose helps her anger melt away.
This third book in the Dance-it-Out series by Once Upon a Dance features a new illustrator and more delightful characters to add to the canon. Designed in a similar way to the other stories, this book has three distinct components that can work together or independently to recount the tale. On the left side of each page is the illustration, depicting the action in the story. Opposite that, the page is divided in two: the top half features the narrative and the bottom half introduces corresponding movements and photographs to guide readers physically through the story.
Written for a young elementary school-aged audience, this story focuses primarily on identifying feelings and emotions and managing them in a healthy way. Accessible text and plot keep the book engaging while imparting its overarching message. A selection of French words common in ballet are immediately translated within the book instead of in a glossary at the end. At the beginning, readers find a message from Ballerina Konora inviting them to participate no matter their age or gender, as ballet is suitable for everybody.
The illustrations are a lovely, emotion-filled addition to this story. Created with pencil lines and watercolor, warm hues pair with texture and patterns to create dynamic visuals. Soft and inviting, these images enhance the varying sentiments included in the narrative.
Cheerful and heartwarming, this movement adventure will inspire creative expression through imagination. As readers replicate the behaviors in the story, they will gain a greater understanding of human emotions and how to express them through both words and actions. This enjoyable story is a valuable addition to young readers’ libraries as they grow and mature into healthy and well-balanced youth.
—Mary Lanni, Indepentdent/Librarian Reviewer