Today Lindy Michaels shares her take on animal lover and Tony Award-winning actress Bernadette Peters’  STELLA IS A STAR ($17.99, www.blueapplebooks.com, ages 4 and up) with illustrations by Liz Murphy.

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I love actress, singer, children’s author, Bernadette Peters and her ‘dreams can come true’ books. “This is the story of Princess Pig… who really isn’t a princess… or a pig.” What a great start to grab a child’s attention, no?

Poor, poor Stella doesn’t think any of the other neighborhood doggies like her. That’s right, she’s a dog! Perhaps they just don’t understand her. Perhaps she tries too hard. Or, perhaps it’s because… “She masquerades as a pig princess of the highest order.” Hey! She never takes off her ballet tutu and her big red crown!

Oh, woe is Stella. But wanting to make friends so badly and already pretending to be a pig princess, she signs up for lessons at If Pigs Could Fly School Of Dance. Of course, the other piggies there just aren’t quite sure Stella is a real pig. Smart swines, they are. “You smell and sound just like a dog.” “If you’re a pig, where is your curly tail?” they ask.

Unfortunately for Stella, not only isn’t she really a little porker, she also can’t dance, has absolutely no rhythm, whatsoever. But Stella is one determined dog/pig, to make some piggy friends and to be a dancer. And so she practices and practices and practices. But does practice make perfect? “She pirouettes at breakfast. She jetes at lunch. She plies at dinner.”

And then it’s the night of the big show. Rose, the prima ballerina pig is spinning and spinning, warming up for her big solo debut, when yikes, she falls and yes, twists her ankle. Oh, snort, who will take her place? Okay, you guessed it. Stella!! (Wow! This sounds just like how Shirley Maclaine got discovered on Broadway!) Although very nervous, to say the least, once on center stage, she is perfect as she twirls and twirls. But then, panic! Her red crown, her security blanket if you will, falls off, but an amazing thing occurs. She suddenly feels free. Free at last. Free to be who she really is… a pit bull ballerina who loves to dance, and ain’t that bad at it, after all.

Of course, the moral of this delightful tale, children, is that you don’t have to pretend to be a princess pig to find friends, learn to dance or have all your dreams come true. You just have to believe in yourself and twirl your way through life!

lindymichaelspic1The very versatile Lindy Michaels aims to inspire young minds through children’s literature. Lindy owned L.A.’s first children’s bookshop, OF BOOKS AND SUCH (1972-1987) where she did storytelling, taught drama to children, had art and poetry contests and the like. According to Lindy, “It was truly a ‘land of enchantment.” She also spent years lecturing on realism in children’s literature at colleges in the state. For close to five years Lindy has worked for Studio City Barnes and Noble (BookStar) in the children’s section and does storytelling every Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

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