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, NYCopyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
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.