It’s immediately noticeable that Romeos and Juliet isn’t presented in the European album format, but shrunk down to a smaller size. It doesn’t harm the art any, and editor Jim Salicrup explains the change is due to market research showing older children perceive larger sized books as being for younger readers and are reluctant to look at them. The savings in paper costs are just a bonus accompanying that for publishers Papercutz, although the price of Canadian editions has been reduced.

After too many predictable jokes scattered through series opener So You Think You Can Hip Hop?, the writing from Béka is starting to expand in some new directions. Romeos and Juliet features more strips set outside the dance classes and a more imaginative exploration of dance. Part of the reason Dance Class wasn’t as compelling as it might have been over the first book is that it’s essentially a three or four panel gag strip padded out to fill a page. Doing that frequently kills the pacing of the joke, but improved writing sells the jokes better. Also improving them on that score are a few strips where there’s a viable longer build-up to the punchline, an example being the three pages of the dance students having to split into pairs. Béka also introduces a greater continuity to the strips, working several jokes around the same or connected subjects, and they begin to drop genuine surprises that will have adults as well as children laughing.

If there were concerns about the writing of the first volume, the art sold the series from the first page. Crip is a great cartoonist sensitive to the needs of the strip. He’s strong on visual characterisation, ensures the clarity young readers need, and when the strip moves out of the dance studio Crip supplies charming locations.

There’s also some movement with the cast, Julie having her first boyfriend after smoothie Tim knows exactly how to win the lead male role in the forthcoming production of Romeo and Juliet. As is the case in most Dance Class books, the sequences lead up to the final performance, and there’s more of Romeo and Juliet than there was of Sleeping Beauty last time. That’s because the writers have come up with a series of good jokes, most concerned with modernisation of the play. There’s reason for optimism about raised quality going forward into African Folk Dance Fever.

The opening three volumes of Dance Class are also combined as the first Dance Class 3 in 1.