This Is It

Daria Peoples-Riley. Greenwillow, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-265776-3
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.)
Reviewed on: 12/04/2017
Release date: 02/01/2018
Genre: Children's
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