cover image Black Swans

Black Swans

Laurel van der Linde, illus. by Sawyer Cloud. Sunbird, $12.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-50376-409-5

Forgoing any introduction, van der Linde’s collective biography briefly introduces six significant Black figures in the world of dance. Opening with Essie Mae Dorsey, who founded a ballet school for Black children in 1926 Philadelphia, the book also spotlights Dance Theatre of Harlem founder Arthur Mitchell, Trinidad-born dancer Christian Holder, choreographer Dwight Rhoden, and contemporary ballet superstars Misty Copeland and Michaela DePrince. The spreads offer nutshell encapsulations of each figure’s accomplishments; Cloud’s understated artwork depicts the individuals performing, often against a single-color background. Each profile includes the tagline “still he/she danced...,” frequently highlighting instances of perseverance in the face of racism (e.g., “the principal ballerina’s husband refused to have her partnered by a Black man”). The book cries out for context, but the individual biographies are inspiring. A final page lists eight additional Black dancers. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)