A veteran dancer, Misty Copeland is known for her considerable achievements as the first African-American female principal at the American Ballet Theatre. Now she is moving toward status as a veteran author, joining the BookExpo 2020 Children’s Book & Author Dinner to share her fourth book, Bunheads (Putnam, Sept.), first in a planned series of picture books that draw on her experiences starting out in ballet.

Illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey, Bunheads follows a character named Misty through her first dance class, as she tries out for a role in the ballet Coppélia. Copeland says she found inspiration for the story of Misty’s journey from fear and apprehension to friendship and success in her own favorite authors as a child, including Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, and E.B. White. “All have created visual masterpieces that, without a doubt, have influenced me,” she says. “I wanted to tell a story that was very visually clear and spoke for itself with the imagery, the same way that dance and movement tell stories without words.”

“Creating a book about art through art is vitally important during such difficult times, Copeland says. “I hope that young readers can take away the importance of friendship, creativity, and using your imagination. Especially now more than ever, art is a necessity. It’s unifying and empowering.”

Copeland believes that the people who share art with young readers are performing a vitally important job, especially booksellers, for whom she has great admiration. “I understand the importance of cultural community leaders, and that’s how I view local bookstores and their incredible staff,” she says. “Their importance to our communities is immeasurable.”

Thursday, May 28, 5:30-7 p.m. Misty Copeland is a panelist at the Children’s Book & Author Dinner, live online at facebook.com/bookexpo.