Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Brontorina Book Poster Image
Dino's gotta dance in sweet, body-positive ballet tale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Includes the ballet terms plié, jeté, relevé, and arabesque. 

Positive Messages

Follow your dream. Don't be discouraged from doing something because you don't have the typical body type for that activity. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Brontorina is upbeat and willing to follow her dream, break barriers, try new things, be a good student, and listen to the teacher, and she has good self-esteem. Madame Lucille is kind and patient, open-minded, and a good problem-solver. 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Brontorina by James Howe and illustrated by Randy Cecil is a cute, funny, charming story of a dinosaur who wants to be a ballerina. Some of the kids in ballet class think Brontorina is "too big," but the kind ballet teacher, Madame Lucille, appreciates Brontorina's love of dance and figures out a way to accommodate her. It's a body-positive message delivered with a very light touch. It also encourages kids to follow their dreams. 

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What's the story?

Brontorina shows up to ballet class and tells Madame Lucille, "I want to dance." "But you are a dinosaur," Madame Lucille says. "True," Brontorina says, "But in my heart I am a ballerina." Two girls in the class pipe up: "She is too big!"  But the teacher lets her in, saying, "Please try not to squash the other dancers." Things go OK, except that Brontorina keeps hitting her head on the ceiling. "The problem is not that you are too big," Madame Lucille says. "The problem is that my studio is too small." So she finds a field and renames her school Madame Lucille's Outdoor Dance Academy for Girls and Boys and Dinosaurs and Cows. 

Is it any good?

BRONTORINA not only has a sweet message about following your dream and being accepted no matter what shape or size you are, it also has wonderful, warm oil illustrations and a diverse cast. The contrast of the tiny boys and girl and the giant orange Brontorina is cute and funny. And Madame Lucille's attitude is wonderful. She acknowledges that Brontorina is graceful in her arabesques and jetés, and when another dinosaur shows up at her outdoor academy and tells her, "I want to dance," she responds without hesitation, "Then you must, my dear."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about following your dream. Is there a sport or another activity you'd love to try? Might you like to take dance lessons? 

  • Why are books about dinosaurs fun? Do you have any favorites? 

  • Do you think kids of all shapes and sizes should be able to play on a team or join a dance class? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and dinosaurs

Themes & Topics

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