A poor Russian girl enchants the world with her romantic ballet performances.
Pavlova was born in Czarist Russia, the daughter of a laundry woman. When her mother took her to a ballet performance, she was spellbound. After waiting two years to be accepted, she rose through the ranks of the Imperial Ballet School despite having what was considered an imperfect body. She excelled in the great 19th-century romantic roles and made “The Dying Swan,” with music from The Carnival of the Animals, by Camille Saint-Saëns, her signature piece. Pavlova traveled around the world sharing her gift and teaching, passing up 20th-century ballets choreographed to modern music and always enchanting audiences with her incomparable style. Snyder writes in the present tense in a delicate and poetic voice that mirrors Pavlova’s onstage persona. Morstad’s art, a combination of ink, gouache, graphite, pencil, and crayon, evokes beautiful Russian cityscapes, while scenes set in a dance studio effectively make use of a white background to showcase a solitary dancing beauty. Falling snow and images of flowers and feathers reappear through the pages as motifs of Pavlova’s childhood, her passion for dance, and her too-young death.
Young ballet lovers will be smitten with the story. (author’s note, bibliography, quotation sources) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)