by Misty Copeland (Author) Christopher Myers (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
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.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-6—A poetic dialogue between an aspiring young dancer and the American Ballet Theater's soloist comprises the text of this stunning picture book. Copeland provides words of encouragement to boost the dreams of an African American girl whose desire to be a ballerina is hampered by her low self-image and lack of confidence. "I was a dancer just like you," Misty tells her, "a dreaming shooting star of a girl/with work and worlds ahead." Copeland's title role in Stravinsky's The Firebird serves as the theme for Myers's signature paint and collage illustrations, which feature full spreads bursting with color and excitement. Elongated forms and slanted geometric shapes are infused with a color palette of browns, yellows, and fiery reds contrasted with cool blues, purples, and splashes of white. Scenes of dynamic action and quiet serenity work together to move the narrative forward, leaving readers with a sense of hope for the future of the young dancer. The author includes a note that discusses her own struggle and need for affirmation, acknowledging those who helped her along the way. A very successful collaboration, appealing to all and particularly valuable to collections on the performing arts.—Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Copeland is the only black dancer presently performing as a soloist with the American Ballet Theater. Her childhood in poverty and the fact that she didn't take up ballet until she was 13 make her acutely aware of the way fame and achievement can seem distant to children whose parents can't offer them support. "Darling child," she writes, "don't you know/ you're just where I started." Scenes of an older dancer guiding a young student ("you will soar/ become a swan, a beauty, a firebird for sure") reinforce the feeling that Copeland is speaking directly to readers, providing young dancers with guidance and a sense of what is possible: "I was a dancer just like you/ a dreaming shooting star of a girl/ with work and worlds ahead." Myers (H.O.R.S.E.) paints portrait after portrait of Copeland dancing, placing the images against collages of colored paper whose curves, sunbursts, and radiating rays echo the rhythms of the dancers' movements. While the book's "Firebird" references are not explained (the Prokofiev ballet is Copeland's signature role), it doesn't keep the book from making a strong impact. Ages 5-8. Author's agent: Steve Troha, Folio Literary Management. (Sept.)

Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Misty Copeland
Misty Copeland didn't take up ballet until age 13, but by age 17, she was a professional. She was appointed ABT soloist at age 24, their first African American soloist in two decades. Driven by her newfound passion for the art, which she discovered at her local Boys & Girls Club, Misty accomplished so much in such a short amount of time through good old-fashioned hard work, discipline and unwavering belief in herself.

Christopher Myers is the award-winning author and illustrator of Caldecott Honoree Harlem and Coretta Scott King Honorees Black Cat and Horse. Myers has also won three Boston Globe-Horn Book Honors and a New York Times Best Illustrated Award.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
September 20, 2014
Age Range
5 - 8 years
Coretta Scott King Award
Winner 2015
Ezra Jack Keats Book Award
Honor Book 2015

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