cover image Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson

Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson

Leda Schubert, illus. by Theodore Taylor III. Little Bee, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4998-0592-5

Schubert presents a moving profile of Raven Wilkinson, the first African-American woman to dance with a major American touring ballet company. After years of studying ballet, Wilkinson was accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1955. Schubert describes Wilkinson’s thrill in performing around the United States, even as racist attitudes limited her opportunities and posed real threats to her safety; in one scene, four of Wilkinson’s fellow dancers stand protectively around her after men rush the stage at an Alabama performance, angry about the “nigra” in the dance company. Taylor illustrates in a style evocative of midcentury comics, juxtaposing graceful dance scenes against a backdrop of racial turmoil. This admiring portrait is bookended by a foreword from dancer Misty Copeland and a grateful closing note from Wilkinson. Ages 6–9.[em] Author’s agent: Steven Chudney, Chudney Agency. (Jan.) [/em]