cover image She Persisted: Maria Tallchief

She Persisted: Maria Tallchief

Christine Day and Chelsea Clinton, illus. by Alexandra Boiger and Gillian Flint. Philomel, $14.99 (80p) ISBN 978-0-593-11581-7

In six accessible chapters, Day (who is Upper Skagit), deftly parallels the struggles of the Osage Nation with those of Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief (1925–2013), one of the first American ballet stars. Born in Oklahoma to an Osage father and white mother, Maria Tall Chief faced a variety of hurdles after starting to dance at three years old, including having to learn about her heritage in secret, since Native ceremonies and gatherings were outlawed by the U.S. government until 1978. She also faced racist bullying from classmates and, as a professional dancer, was asked to make her name more sound Russian. Tallchief nevertheless rose to dance solos with the Ballet de Monte Carlos, the New York City Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre, becoming a major star with George Balanchine’s Firebird and receiving prestigious recognitions. Flint contributes simple, appealing b&w ink-and-wash spot illustrations throughout this rich, clear picture of how one iconic Native dancer persisted. Back matter includes a How You Can Persist guide and references. Ages 6–9. (Nov.)