cover image Tiny Dancer

Tiny Dancer

Siena Cherson Siegel, illus. by Mark Siegel. Atheneum, $19.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8666-8

The husband-and-wife team behind graphic memoir To Dance returns with another rich tale, delving into Siena’s experiences at the School of American Ballet in the late 1970s and early ’80s. Opening with young Siena’s cartwheels on the beach in her native Puerto Rico, the author recounts her acceptance to SAB at 12 and moving to Manhattan with her mother, whose ethnicity is unspecified, as her Cuban-born father stays in San Juan, and her beloved older brother attends boarding school and then college in Boston. Siena grows increasingly passionate about ballet classes, rehearsals, and performances; by 15, dance inspires “majestic,” “radiant” feelings. Siegel movingly describes these joys as well as the despair of growing too tall for certain roles, and a dancer’s ultimate nightmare: injury. As “all the joy of dancing was seeping out of me,” Siena must decide how to reroute her life. Siegel’s digital drawings—done in a cool-toned blue and purple palette—add gravity to Siena’s journey, emphasizing dynamism and shifting emotions. Ballet lovers and aspiring and established dancers will particularly appreciate this deep dive into the ballet world, and revel in the faithful renderings of dancers—including some legendary figures—at work, at ease, and performing. Ages 12–up. Agent: Tanya McKinnon, McKinnon McIntyre Literary. (Oct.)