cover image When Langston Dances

When Langston Dances

Kaija Langley, illus. by Keith Mallett. S&S/Millner, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-8519-8

“Langston liked basketball, but he adored ballet.” A Black boy recognizes his love of ballet after his mother takes him to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. When, post-performance, Langston asks whether he, too, could dance like that, his mother offers an encouraging response: “You can do whatever you set your mind to doing.” Thus begins Langston’s journey toward balletic excellence in this firmly uplifting narrative. Though a child on the way to Langston’s first dance class attempts to bring the burgeoning dancer down with a gendered sneer, Langston perseveres, in spreads showcasing an engrossing flipbook-like progression of his moves. Langley utilizes plentiful dialogue and repetition to draw readers in: “And Langston danced... and danced... and danced,” the final spreads read, showing the maturing protagonist continuing to dance over the years. Mallett’s lively, realistic illustrations, characterized by airbrushed strokes and dynamic dancers of varying skin tones, help further bring the story to life. Notable is Langston’s unwavering passion for ballet—and his mother’s just as steadfast support—in this richly affirmative picture book. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)