Black Ballerinas by Misty Copeland

Back in 2015, we did a series of review posts of picture books about black ballerinas.

Imagine our delight when we discovered the middle grade collection of biographies, Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy by superstar ballerina Misty Copeland and illustrated by Salena Barnes.

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Unlike most nonfiction biography collections, Misty Copeland’s approach is a very personal one. Told in the first person, each biography reflects how twenty-five different black ballerinas have influenced her career (“My Journey” in the title). In many ways it is Misty Copeland’s memoir.

Misty Copeland didn’t have a lot of exposure to ballet or prominent black dancers as a child. She was in her late teens when she saw black ballerina Lauren Anderson on a magazine cover for the first time. Seeing Lauren  inspired Misty and showed her that she wasn’t alone, that her dream to be a ballerina wasn’t impossible. Black Ballerinas was conceived to allow other youngsters see themselves as dancers.

The illustrations by Salena Barnes are equally inspiring. She captures the motion, the grace, and the magic of ballet on the page, while at the same time revealing the unique person who is the ballerina. Gorgeous! Beautiful! Breathtaking!

Black Ballerinas is a must have for young black dancers and aspiring ballerinas, but also would be lovely for anyone interested in music and dance to enjoy.


You can see more about Misty and the book in this interview:

Wise words to live by:  “Be open to guidance and advice. ”

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 10 years and up
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Aladdin (November 2, 2021)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1534474242
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1534474246

Nine Great Books for Black History Month

Black History Month or (National African American History Month) begins this Friday, February 1, 2013, so it is a perfect time to pull out some of our favorite books over the past few years to celebrate.

(Links to titles go to reviews here at Wrapped in Foil.)


The picture book biography Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman, Olympic High-Jump Champion by Heather Lang and illustrated by Floyd Cooper leaves the reader breathless. It is an amazing story of a woman who ran, ran, and ran some more to overcome poverty, racism, and gender barriers, ultimately making her mark on history as the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

It Jes’ Happened
It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie is a fascinating picture book biography about a former slave who became a prolific folk artist after he started drawing when he was eighty-five years old.
Baby Flo: Florence Mills Lights Up the Stage by Alan Schroeder and illustrated by the husband/wife team of Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu is a picture book biography that will light up a child’s face when he or she reads it.
Africans Thought of It: Amazing Innovations by Bathseba Opini and Richard B. Lee is an overview of the interesting, useful, lively and even fun innovations developed by Africans, ranging from aloe vera to the xylophone.
Seeds of Change:  Planting a Path to Peace by Jen Cullerton and illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler is about the life of Wangari Maathai, a woman whose story is both uplifting and complex.
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip
Hoose was a Sibert honor winner in 2010. This is a middle-grade level title
Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Travares (Candlewick Press) is an uplifting history of a man who broke barriers with quiet hard work and unquestionable talent.
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney (Little Brown Kids), illustrated by Brian Pinkney.
Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgeraldby Roxane Orgill (Candlewick Press) has a lot of educational potential, but it comes with a warning. Ella Fitzgerald’s early life was a difficult one. Her father wasn’t around, her mother passed away and Ella fell into the wrong sort of crowd. Some of the rough spots may make children uncomfortable.But you could do many fun tie-in activities with reading Skit-Skat:  Play some of Ella Fitzgerald’s music, learn some of the dances, explore the clothes of the time, delve into the history of the Depression, read about Ella Fitzgerald’s later life. Skit-Skat has a vibrant energy that could be a jumping off point to many discoveries. Ready, set, go.


Do you have any favorite titles in honor of Black History Month?


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by Booktalking to see who is hosting each week.

Today’s round-up is at LauraSalas.

Hair Dance

The color, texture and style of our hair is part of our unique individuality, a reflection of our personality. But sometimes that uniqueness can feel more like “different,” especially for young girls. Enter Hair Dance by Dinah Johnson and Kelly Johnson, a celebration of the beauty of African American hair and youth.

hair-dancePhotographer Kelly Johnson introduces the book with a touching story of how she was inspired by her grandparents’ hairstyling business. Her photographs of children are lively, lovely and incredible pieces of art, just like the hairstyles.

The photographs are brilliant enough to carry the book all on their own, but the poetry by Dinah Johnson adds the bows to this hair piece.

As a book by two women that contains many pictures of girls, this is a book full of female energy and wisdom. It would be a great gift for any girl needing a little confidence or struggling with her identity. I can also envision it as a fun part of a birthday party celebration or sleepover where girls style each others’ hair.

Hair Dance is an awesome example of what I mentioned in my last post, how to make a nonfiction work personal and relevant.

The Brown Bookshelf has a post about the author, Dr. Dinah Johnson, as well as many other authors and books in celebration of Black History Month.

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1st edition (September 4, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805065237
ISBN-13: 978-0805065237


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Simply Science.