cover image Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring

Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring

Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illus. by Brian Floca, Roaring Brook/Flash Point/Porter, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59643-338-0

Greenberg and Jordan (Action Jackson; Christo and Jeanne-Claude) continue to carve out their art-focused niche with this inspired book about collaboration. The now classic 1944 ballet, Appalachian Spring, serves as a fine model, showcasing three great artists: dancer Martha Graham, composer Aaron Copland, and set designer Isamu Noguchi. Readers see the fascinating creative process unfold, from Graham's germ of an idea about American settlers to the ballet's opening night. They will also gain insight into each artist: "The movements are not always pretty. Not everyone likes Martha's new way of dancing. Audiences have booed her performances, but Martha never lets that stop her," and "Aaron's music suggests the movement, fires the dancers' imaginations, dares them to do more." In spot art and full-bleed scenes, Floca's (Moonshot) muted, elegantly composed watercolors capture Noguchi's avant-garde set ("spare and angular, like Martha's way of dancing"), and the posture and movement of the dancers. Capturing the drama of dance, music, and stage design in a two-dimensional format is no easy feat, but this team does it with a noteworthy grace of their own. Ages 6–10. (Aug.)