• It’s the birth date of John Hancock (1737–1793), signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the first governor of Massachusetts. On a related note, it’s National Handwriting Day.
  • Elizabeth Blackwell is awarded her M.D. in 1849, by the Medical Institute of Geneva, New York, becoming the United States' first female doctor. Read Doctor Meow’s Big Emergency by Sam Lloyd.
  • One this day in1973 President Richard Nixon announces a peace accord has been reached in Vietnam. Read Vietnam: A Traveler’s Literary Companion edited by John Balaban and Nguyen Qui Duc.
  • It’s National Pie Day. Read How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman.

Today we celebrate Measure Your Feet Day. But why?

Well, one reason youngsters might measure their feet would be for special shoes, say ballet shoes. Since this also happens to be the birthday of Katharine Holabird, author of Angelina Ballerina, our book of the day features a very special mouse, Angelina, who loves to dance. Published in 1983 and now a classic, Angelina Ballerina presents a mouse heroine. Angelina doesn’t want to straighten her room or get ready for school—she only wants to dance. So she dances her way to school and lands in a pansy patch. Angelina can’t stop dancing. She twirls on the playground; she even executes a beautiful arabesque in the kitchen. Driven to exasperation, her mother Mrs. Mouseling buys pink ballet slippers and sends Angelina off to Miss Lily’s Ballet School.

Katharine Holabird’s text presents this sequence lightly and with a touch of humor. But in the Angelina books, illustrator Helen Craig often steals the show. Her enchanting drawings show this winsome mouse prancing around, and when Angelina attends Miss Lilly’s Ballet Studio, Craig pulls out all the stops and shows grand scenes of mouse ballerinas together. Her artwork is animated and vital—she delineates character and expression with just the lightest of touch. Full of movement and life, the artwork pulls the readers eye across the page, onto the next spread.

With the best of all outcomes, Angelina becomes a famous ballerina—living out the dream of her childhood. These anthropomorphic mice represent the feelings and behavior of children. All of Angelina’s behavior accurately reflects the dreams and actions of many four to eight year olds.

Angelina Ballerina begins a series that became very popular with young readers. These books feature Angelina engaged in a variety of activities that might be experienced by any child: going to a fair (Angelina at to the Fair), getting a bike (Angelina’s Birthday Surprise), or ice skating (Angelina Ice Skates). She even participated in a royal wedding in 2010 (Angelina and the Royal Wedding). But the original book still makes the best introduction to Angelina. Like a great performance, you can return to it again and again.

A standing ovation to Katharine Holabird on her birthday and Helen Craig on Measure Your Feet Day. I myself may not measure my feet. But I will reread this gem one more time.

Here’s a page from Angelina Ballerina:

“Congratulations, Angelina,” said Miss Lilly. “You are a good little dancer and if you work hard you may grow up to be a real ballerina one day.”


Originally posted January 23, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Dance, Mice
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Angelina Ballerina


  1. June Sengpiehkl says:

    What a cute idea. It’s good to see what good books there are for every one to read.
    June Sengpiehl

  2. Teri-K says:

    Also fitting today’s theme are Noel Streatfeild’s shoe books, especially Ballet Shoes, which may be the most popular. And for some reason when I read it was measure your feet day, I thought of Pippi Longstocking. I don’t know if they ever actually measured them or if it’s just because her shoes were so large.

    I’ve not read Angelina, so I will look her up.

  3. Anita says:

    Teri-K: Yes, thanks for mentioning Ballet Shoes, coming up on the Almanac in the future.

  4. beth says:

    My son loved Angelina when he was a pre-schooler, so we always checked for Holabird’s books in our library. He liked her stubborness, I think.

  5. Mary D says:

    This is a favorite for my two granddaughters who are old enough to like dancing. We read the books, and watch the series based on the Craig drawings (not the more recent one one which just doesn’t measure up, in my opinion.) Angelina is a delightful mouseling whom my granddaughters relate with, because she tries to be good, but is not always successful. However, lessons are always learned and all turns out for the best. These stories are delightful for children and their adults!

  6. Tess W. says:

    I’ve been doing ballet since I was three or four and when my aunt got me this book as a birthday present, my mom thought I would faint with happiness. I wanted to be Angelina (yes, even with the tail).

    Helen Craig’s illustrations, especially in the companion book to this, “Angelina and Alice,” make me want to dance to this day!

  7. Amanda C. says:

    I have read this book to the four year old girl I babysit at least 50 times! As soon as we finish it, she wants me to start all over again. To be honest, I had no idea it was first published in 1983, in fact I thought it was a modern children’s book. It is nice to see that some books never go out of style. Even her three year old brother loves to read this one! I am going to find some of the other Angelina books at the local library as a great surprise for them both.

  8. Momo says:

    If you love the illustrations in Angelina look for other books illustrated by Helen Craig I think she is a gem. I especially love Jam by Margaret Mahy and Suzie and Alfred in the Night of the Paperbag monsters by Helen Craig herself. We had the ballet of this book in Sydney just last year.

  9. Natasha says:

    Such lovely illustrations,they bring back so many memories.

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