Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Bijou, Bonbon & Beau: The Kittens who Danced for Degas

Bijou, Bonbon & Beau: The Kittens who Danced for Degas

Joan Sweeney
Illustrator:  Leslie Wu 
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Chronicle Books, 1998   ISBN: 978-0811819756

One day a stray cat finds herself a quiet safe place to have her kittens. The place she chooses is in a Paris theatre and soon after the birth of her three babies, the mother cat is found by the wardrobe mistress of the theatre. The wardrobe mistress, (who is called Madame Duvay) the ballerinas, and the other people who work in the theatre all love the kittens and name them Bijou, Bonbon & Beau. There is one person though who would dearly like to get rid of the funny little creatures. Armand Klenk, the stage manager, dislikes the kittens intensely but agrees to let them stay so long as they are kept out of his way and don't interfere with the dancing ballerinas.

All goes well until the night of the grand performance. When they see the ballerinas on the stage, twirling and pirouetting, the kittens cannot restrain themselves. To the delight of the audience, Beau, Bijou, and Bonbon join the ballerinas on the stage, pouncing, leaping, and making a real exhibition of themselves. Klenk is furious and everyone at the opera fears that he will make them throw the kittens out into the street. The activities of the kittens and all the theatre folk are very carefully observed, and recorded, by a person who spends a great deal of his time in the theatre. It is the artist Edgar Degas and he is greatly amused by the kittens and their various misadventures.

With sumptuous pastel illustrations in the style of Degas throughout the book, this little tale will delight young cat, art, and ballet fans. In addition to the story in the back of the book there is a fold out reproduction of one of Degas' most famous pictures. There is also a brief biography of the painter.