Ballet is indeed beautiful for both a student and a performing ballerina.
In parallel stories, Emma, a young white girl, and Julia, an African-American dancer, awaken and set off for their ballet classes. Each loves her familiar routine and practice session. In the evening, Emma and her parents attend a performance in which Julia dances. A special treat awaits Emma as she gets to go backstage and receive not only an autograph, but also a hug from Julia. In both her words and her colorful illustrations, done in ink, gouache, and watercolor, McClintock deftly balances the two worlds and the preparations involved in being a fan and a member of a company. Emma’s mother chauffeurs her, while Julia waits for a city bus. Emma enjoys a family dinner, while Julia snacks with fellow dancers. Detailed drawings show a not-yet-accomplished student, while on the facing page, the ballerina executes her steps with perfect grace; there’s no sweating or falling in this world. It is certainly a good thing to see an African-American ballerina, especially given the recent publicity about the lack of diversity in ballet, but why couldn’t Emma also be a student of color—like three of the other girls in her class? It is nice to see a white girl looking to a black role model, however.
Young fans will dream big while enjoying this picture-book–perfect world. (Picture book. 4-7)