Beautiful African-American Ballerinas

For the last day in our series on African-American ballerinas, we are emphasizing the “picture” in picture book with the illustrious photography of Susan Kuklin in Beautiful Ballerina by Marilyn Nelson.

This book features photographs of four real girls from the Dance Theater of Harlem, accompanied by simple, poetic text. It is in a word, “Beautiful!”  Appropriate for younger children with guidance.

Whether to encourage youngsters to pursue their dreams or to take up dance as a way to get off the couch, Beautiful Ballerina is an inspiring book!

Age Range: 7 – 10 years
Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (September 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0545089204
ISBN-13: 978-0545089203

Related Materials

Looking for more background information?

This trailer for an upcoming documentary explains some of the struggles being a Black Ballerina.

Do you follow Instagram? Brown Girls Do Ballet® has more beautiful photographs.

Deborah Amadei has suggestions for activities using some of the featured books at Nonfiction Monday.

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Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

leaf-borderSummary of our posts this week about Children’s Books Celebrating African-American Ballerinas:

Monday: Michaela DePrince

Tuesday: Misty Copeland

Wednesday: Debbie Allen

Thursday: Janet Collins

Today:  Beautiful Ballerinas

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Children’s Books About African-American Ballerinas: Janet Collins

This week the spotlight is on children’s books featuring African-American ballerinas. Today we have a historical-fiction picture book kindled by the life of ballerina Janet Collins:  A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dreamby Kristy Dempsey and illustrated by Floyd Cooper.

Told from the point of view of a young girl who dreams of being a ballerina, this book reveals the importance of seeing role models who are able to succeed. In this case the role model is Janet Collins, who became a prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera House in the 1950s.

In real life, Janet Collins did inspire African-American women to take up ballet, including Delores Brown and Raven Wilkinson. In turn, Raven Wilkinson became a mentor for Misty Copeland.

This book has gotten a lot of positive feedback. Right now on GoodReads A Dance Like Starlight has 116 reviews, which is almost unheard of for a relatively new children’s book. Everyone raves about Floyd Cooper’s illustrations, as well. You can catch a glimpse at the video trailer on Dreamscape.

A Dance Like Starlight encourages young children to dream big, regardless of their circumstances. It is a wonderful message to share.

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: Philomel Books; First Edition edition (January 2, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0399252843
ISBN-13: 978-0399252846

Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

leaf-borderVisit our other posts this about Children’s Books Celebrating African-American Ballerinas:

Monday:  Michaela DePrince

Tuesday: Misty Copeland

Wednesday: Debbie Allen

Thursday:  Janet Collins

Friday:  Beautiful (African-American) Ballerina

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Children’s Books About African-American Ballerinas: Debbie Allen

Debbie Allen is a dancer, choreographer and actress who got her start as a ballerina. To that end, she wrote the picture book Dancing in the Wings (illustrated by the sublime Kadir Nelson).

This older book complements the others featured this week nicely. In this case the main character, Sassy, finds herself watching from the wings as others dance on stage because she is too tall and her feet are too big. When a man comes to audition the dancers for a chance to participate in a summer dance festival in Washington D.C., Sassy knows she wants to try out. Will she succeed?

Allen may be known for her dancing, but she also has writing cred because, after all, her mother was Pulitzer-winning poet Vivian Ayers. Written in the first person, Sassy has a humorous and realistic tone. “I took off like Jackie Joyner-Kersee in the long jump at the Olympics.” Of course, Kadir Nelson’s oil paintings capture perfectly the longing and awkwardness of young Sassy. and then her emerging grace and beauty.

Allen writes that Dancing in the Wings incorporates her own experiences as a struggling dancer, but was inspired by her daughter, who also studied ballet.

This video gives a brief overview of Allen’s lifetime accomplishments.

Dancing in the Wings is a delightful book that will enthrall young dancers and non-dancers alike. Who hasn’t felt left out and wanted to shine? This book will light the way.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (December 1, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0142501417
ISBN-13: 978-0142501412

Disclosure: This book was from the library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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Visit our other posts about Children’s Books Celebrating African-American Ballerinas:

Monday:  Michaela DePrince

Tuesday:  Misty Copeland

Wednesday:  Debbie Allen

Thursday:  Janet Collins

Friday:  Beautiful (African-American) Ballerina

African-American-Ballerina-Books

Cybils 2015: Call for Volunteer Judges

Do you blog about children’s books on a regular basis? The Cybils are back and the call for judges is going on until September 9, 2015.

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What are Cybils? The acronym stands for children’s and young adult bloggers literary awards. Bloggers who specialize in children’s and young adult books have developed the Cybils awards to highlight some of the best books published in the previous year.

Volunteer judges are needed to read and evaluate the nominated titles in a range of genres. There are two rounds of judging, so be sure to read the judging details to decide which panels you would like to apply for.

Being a Cybils judge is a wonderful opportunity to meet others interested in children’s books and to read some of the top books in the industry. Hope to see you there.