Tag Archives: determination

Perfect Pairing – Loves to Dance

I love to dance into a new month, don’t you? Here’s two picture books to help!

Lena’s Slippers

Author & Illustrator: Ioana Hobai

Publisher/Date: Page Street Kids/2019

Ages: 4-8

Themes: ballet, dancing shoes, perseverance, economic hardship, determination

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Lena can’t wait to twirl and swirl on stage for her school dance recital, but her family does not have the money to pay for new dance slippers. Despite this, nothing is going to stop Lena from dancing. As the day of the recital draws closer, Lena works hard come up with a creative solution and enjoys her shining moment on stage, learning along the way that what you do is more important than what you wear.

Lena’s passion for performing will inspire readers, especially aspiring dancers. Parents will love that it teaches kids not to get caught up in artificial, materialistic ideals. With lovely illustrations, this heartwarming story highlights the power of perseverance and the joy of creativity.

Read a review at The Picture Book Buzz.

 

The Wonder Shoes

Author: Eva Bernatová

Illustrator: Fiona Moodie

Publisher/Date: Farrar Straus Giroux/1990

Ages:  4-8

Themes: ballet, dancing shoes, loneliness, persistence

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A story of a young girl named Emma who is enraptured by the Circus Umberto, which has come to her village featuring a beautiful young dancer wearing bright red dancing shoes. Emma dreams of becoming a dancer herself, and wonderful things happen when she receives her own pair of dancing shoes.

Because of the date of publication, I didn’t find a review of The Wonder Shoes, but my kids loved it when they were young.

I paired these books because both feature dancers and the desire to obtain dance shoes. In Lena’s Slippers, economic hardship and the realities of life in a country with bare-shelved stores leaves Lena scrambling to find the right white dance slippers to join with her ballet classmates. In The Wonder Shoes, lonely newcomer Emma dreams of life as a dancer, and finds friends, and an opportunity to dance, through perseverance and creativity. Both books highlight the joys of dancing and the desire to be part of a group.

Looking for similar reads?

See Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins (Michelle Meadows/Ebony Glenn, 2019) and Firebird: Ballerina Misty Copeland Shows a Young Girl How to Dance Like the Firebird (Misty Copeland/Christopher Myers, 2014), featured here last spring, and Danza! Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México (Duncan Tonatiuh, 2017).

Perfect Pairing – Dances into Spring

I’m continuing the celebration of Women’s History Month with a focus on trailblazing dancers.

Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins

Author: Michelle Meadows

Illustrator: Ebony Glenn

Publisher/Date: Henry Holt and Company (Macmillan Publishing Group)/2019

Ages: 4-8

Themes: ballet; diversity; trailblazers; biography

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A lyrical picture book biography of Janet Collins, the first African American principal dancer at the Metropolitan Opera House. 
Janet Collins wanted to be a ballerina in the 1930s and 40s, a time when racial segregation was widespread in the United States. Janet pursued dance with a passion, despite being rejected from discriminatory dance schools. When she was accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a teenager on the condition that she paint her skin white for performances, Janet refused. She continued to go after her dreams, never compromising her values along the way. From her early childhood lessons to the height of her success as the first African American prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera, Brave Ballerina is the story of a remarkable pioneer as told by Michelle Meadows, with fantastic illustrations from Ebony Glenn.

Read a review at Noodling with Words.

 

Firebird: Ballerina Misty Copeland Shows a Young Girl How to Dance Like the Firebird

Author: Misty Copeland

Illustrator: Christopher Myers

Publisher/Date: Penguin Young Readers Group/2014

Ages: 6-10

Themes: ballet; trailblazers; determination

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In her debut picture book, Misty Copeland tells the story of a young girl–an every girl–whose confidence is fragile and who is questioning her own ability to reach the heights that Misty has reached. Misty encourages this young girl’s faith in herself and shows her exactly how, through hard work and dedication, she too can become Firebird.
Lyrical and affecting text paired with bold, striking illustrations that are some of Caldecott Honoree Christopher Myers’s best work, makes Firebird perfect for aspiring ballerinas everywhere.

Read a review at Kirkus Reviews.

I paired these books because both are lyrical picture books that explore the hard work and dedication necessary to excel at ballet and that encourage all young children, regardless of race or socio-economic situation, to soar through their endeavors. In Brave Ballerina, readers learn the story of Janet Collins, the first African-American prima ballerina in a major company. In lyrical rhymes that dance through the story, Meadows explores each component that led to Collins’ success, ending with the revelation that “This is the dancer,/bold like the sun,/a prima ballerina/in 1951.” In the fictional Firebird, Copeland herself offers encouragement to the narrator, a young dancer who doubts her abilities. With practice, Copeland assures the budding ballerina that she’ll “soar become a swan, a beauty, a firebird for sure”.

Looking for similar reads?

See Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova (Chronicle Books/2015).