Daria Peoples-Riley's debut picture book is a celebration of individuality, self-expression, and dance. Fans of Misty Copeland's Firebird and Matt de la Peña's Last Stop on Market Street will want to read it over and over again.
When a young dancer is nervous about her upcoming auditions, her shadow springs to life and leads her on a joyous exploration of their city. Soon enough, the young girl finds confidence in her skills, her body, and her ability to shine.
With an energetic, rhythmic text that begs to be read aloud and striking, exuberant artwork, This Is It is a love story to originality and the simple joy of movement.
The future is in your footsteps.
Freedom is in your feet.
Put one foot in front of the other,
and greet your destiny.
A young ballerina, nervous about an audition, gets a pep talk from her own shadow in Peoples-Riley's encouraging picture book debut. Wearing a leotard and ballet shoes, a brown-skinned girl with frizzy red curls walks from her public housing building to a dance studio. She isn't ready to go inside, but as she turns away her shadow pipes up, its hands posed defiantly on its hips while the girl hugs herself dejectedly: "The future is in your footsteps./ Freedom is in your feet./ Put one in front of the other, / and greet your destiny." Gradually, the girl's mood lifts and she's dancing through the city alongside her shadow, before returning to the studio. Peoples-Riley's free-verse narrative has the force and drive of spoken-word poetry ("Stand up tall./ Arch your back./ Hold your head up high./ This. Is. It.") and echoes the energy of her stylized and graceful mixed-media art, which casts the girl as a star, even if she doesn't know it: not a single other person is seen anywhere in the book. Ages 4-8. Agent: Marietta Zacker, Gallt and Zacker Literary. (Feb.)Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
K-Gr 4--A spunky, endearingly gawky girl leaps across the cityscape on the cover of this simple, but profound picture book about being brave and taking chances. It is audition day, and a lone girl inhabits the streets of New York City with her shadow challenging her to a dance-off to boost her self-confidence. She starts off pouting, stiff, and unsure among the menacing gray columns of concrete buildings. Her shadow reminds her how everything in her life has prepared her for this day and encourages her to go forward and greet her destiny. Gradually, colors seep in to the illustrations. Full-bleeds done in ink, gouache, and watercolor portray the brilliant hues of tree-lined streets contrasted against murky buildings. The free verse moves fluidly in and out of rhyme and features the occasional concrete poetry stanza. No word is forced and the message is clear: you can do this! By the end, the dancer is ready, hair pulled into a bun, and one eyebrow raised as she grand jetes across the dance floor in an image parallel to that on the cover. VERDICT This well-crafted book celebrates the joy of dance and shows a girl gaining confidence in herself--an important message for all children. Recommended for purchase for all picture book collections.--Clara Hendricks, Cambridge Public Library, MACopyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.