Firebird

Misty Copeland, illus. by Christopher Myers. Putnam, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-16615-0
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.)
Reviewed on: 09/08/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
Genre: Children's
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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