The Jewel Box Ballerinas

The Jewel Box Ballerinas by Monique de Varennes,
illustrated by Ana Juan.
Schwartz & Wade, 2007.

Big Sis and I decided to blog this book today.  It's one of our very favorite picture books.  She told me she reads it to her sister sometimes.  We checked it out from the library several years ago, then one of the girls got it for Christmas from my dad, in 2011.

I took some pictures to show it off, then looked it up online.  Omigosh, this beautiful book is no longer available new!  Random House has it listed as an eBook only.  Please check the library, or find a nice used copy.  It's so worth it.  The illustrations are by Ana Juan, one of my favorites.  


I mean, let us stop for a moment and admire the endpapers.  So few modern picture books have glorious endpapers like these anymore...


Okay, so The Jewel Box Ballerinas is about a very wealthy woman named Bibi, who is so rich she has two of almost everything.  What Bibi does not have is a friend.


One day, Bibi visits "a tiny shop on a crooked street," where she spies a beautiful gold jewel box.  She tells the shopkeeper she'll take two.

"I'm sorry," he replied.  "There is just one box like it in all the world."  "But I only buy things in twos," Bibi said, pouting, and she turned to go.  "Wait!" cried the shopkeeper.  "Perhaps you will want this after all."  And he flung up the lid.


The twin ballerinas thrill Bibi, who wants the gold box after all.  But first, the shopkeeper shares its sad history.  Many years before, a sorcerer made the jewel box for his twin nieces.  "He used all his wealth to make this jewel box, and all his powers to create these dancers.  Their brilliant smiles glowed like magic."  Alas, the spoiled nieces wanted ponies, and turned their noses up a the ballerinas.  The very sad sorcerer declared, "From now on, all who look on these ballerinas will see the sorrow you have caused me."


Bibi thought it was silly, so she bought the jewel box.  She was very happy with her ballerinas, naming them Miranda and Mathilda.  She watched them twirl and changed their costumes.  One day, however, she was struck by how sad they looked.  She begins to devote her life to cheering up her girls.  She stood on her head, gave them kisses, and took them traveling to Alaska and Africa.



Then one day, after buying two of everything from a stall in an African marketplace, Bibi loses her ballerinas.


"Oh, Miranda! Oh, Mathilda!  What will I do without you? I'd give up all I own to have you back again.!"

What do you suppose happens next?  Please, go hunt down this book! 


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Comments

  1. Oh I love this book! The story and illustrations are divine! I've had it for years and I haven't introduced it to my daughter yet. Perhaps it's time :)

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    1. Oh, try it! Mine got it for Christmas 2011, so they would have been 4 and 6. We had read it long before that, though...

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  2. OH MY STARS you tease!! Off to the library!!!!!! This looks just amazing. I've never seen anything quite like it!

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    1. It truly is one of our favorites. I grabbed everything I could that was illustrated by Ana Juan from the library that year - that's how we found Frida, too - but this one was especially nice. :)

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  3. Nooooo! You must tell us what happens next!!! Now I'll really have to hunt down this book!

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    1. Oh, I figured that it might be predictable enough to figure out... ;) And it has pugs! My oldest daughter has dreamed of having a pug since she was 2. "I want a pug, and I want to name her Belinda," she informed us...

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  4. Hooray for beautiful endpapers indeed! This book looks whimsical and amazing. I really hope somehow that the rise of ebooks will spur a return to more art in bookbinding. I can dream...

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    1. I share the same dream. I would love to see the rise of proper cloth bindings again, too. Have you ever read the Inkheart books by Cornelia Funke? They make a booklover drool...

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    2. I need to check out that series. The first one came out when I was in high school so I wasn't into reading "kid stuff." I read very serious literature back then. And lots of fashion magazines.

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    3. Yeah, I had to be an adult to go back and appreciate kid stuff. ;) It's very inventive, and the descriptions of books and bookbinding are amazing.

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  5. Yes, going to hunt it down! Sounds wonderful.

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