It’s that time of the month again – Fiction in 50 kicks off on Monday! To participate, just create a piece of fiction or poetry in fewer than 51 words and then add your link to the comments of my post on Monday. For more information, just click on that snazzy typewriter at the top of this post. Our prompt for this month is…
Hope to see you there!
Ballerina Dreams: A Tale of Hope, Hard Work and Finding Your Groove…
The world of early chapter books seems to have expanded greatly since I was a youngling and nowadays there are a plethora of beautifully presented, exquisitely formatted, engaging and accessible stories out there for newly confident readers. Ballerina Dreams: A True Story by professional ballet dancer Michaela DePrince and her adoptive mother Elaine is one such story. We received our copy from Allen & Unwin for review and here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
At the age of three, Michaela DePrince found a photo of a ballerina that changed her life. She was living in an orphanage in Sierra Leone at the time, but was soon adopted by a family and brought to America. Michaela never forgot the photo of the dancer she once saw, and decided to make her dream of becoming a ballerina come true. She has been dancing ever since, and after a spell as a principal dancer in New York, now dances for the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam.
Beautifully and gently illustrated by Ella Okstad, Ballerina Dreams is the younger-reader edition of Michaela DePrince’s highly moving memoir, Hope in a Ballet Shoe.
Not being a particular fan of ballet, I was a bit trepidatious going into this book, but I was drawn in by the young, brown-skinned girl on the cover. I happen to have some familial ties with a fantastic blog called FleshTone, that promotes representation of all skin colours in all areas of everyday life, from underwear to toys and beyond. FleshTone, driven by its founder, Tayo Ade, has a particular focus on dancewear for darker skinned performers, because bizarrely, despite the fact that there must be thousands upon thousands of non-white people involved in dancing worldwide, production of flesh-coloured dancewear to suit such people is hard to find. I immediatley wondered, while reading this book, whether Michaela DePrince has trouble finding flesh-coloured dancewear to suit her fleshtone…but I digress. Back to the book.
Ballerina Dreams is the early reader version of DePrince’s memoir Hope in a Ballet Shoe. DePrince herself hails from Sierra Leone, where she lived in an orphanage after her parents were killed in the war there. Adopted by Elaine DePrince, along with her best friend and several others from the orphanage, Michaela moves to the USA with her new family and is able to pursue the dream she has fostered since finding an abadoned magazine with a picture of a dancer on the front: to learn ballet.
The story touches briefly on DePrince’s struggles as a dark-skinned dancer in a world in which such dancers are scarce, before ending on her accomplishments as a professional dancer and her desire to inspire and encourage other young people of colour to pursue their dreams with hard work and patience.
The book is beautifully presented, with large print and colour illustrations throughout, appearing both as full page spreads and wrapped around sections of text. As such, the story will be accessible for young readers as both a read-alone or a read-aloud with an adult. It’s wonderful to see that books – and particularly nonfiction books – highlighting individuals from diverse backgrounds are being published for this age group.
I would highly recommend this engaging tale for young fans of dance and those who enjoy true stories told in accessible ways.
I’m submitting this book for the Popsugar Reading Challenge in category #32: a book about an interesting woman. You can check out my progress toward the challenge here.
Until next time,