For ballerinas in training and in spirit.

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TRAILBLAZER

THE STORY OF BALLERINA RAVEN WILKINSON

Tracing a line directly from Wilkinson to Misty Copeland, Schubert highlights racism and prejudice in America and in ballet as well as the recent breaking of one barrier.

Wilkinson, born in 1935 to an upper-class African-American family in New York City, fell in love with classical ballet at an early age and was determined to dance. She was invited to join the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo at the age of 20. Unfortunately, touring through America’s Southern states brought danger, threats, forced segregation, and ugly encounters with the Ku Klux Klan. She left ballet briefly, then danced in Europe, before finally returning to America for a long career with the New York City Opera. Misty Copeland, recently promoted to principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre—its first African-American—credits Wilkinson as a mentor in the book’s final scene. A color photograph of the two women after Copeland’s debut performance in Swan Lake is a beautiful inspiration to young ballerinas of color. Schubert’s research included an interview with Wilkinson, quotations from which allow her to speak to readers with her own voice. Taylor’s digitized artwork depicts scenes from the rehearsal studio and the stage along with ugly episodes of Klan activity. His people are expressive, but their firm, black outlines and flat, solid coloring cause them to lack the delicacy associated with this ethereal art form.

For ballerinas in training and in spirit. (foreword, afterword, author’s note, ballet terms, partial bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0592-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so.

WOMEN ARTISTS A TO Z

Contemporary and historical female artists are showcased for younger readers.

The artists’ names aren’t presented in A-to-Z order. The alphabetical arrangement actually identifies signature motifs (“D is for Dots” for Yayoi Kusama); preferred media (“I is for Ink” for Elizabeth Catlett); or cultural, natural, or personal motives underlying artworks (“N is for Nature” for Maya Lin). Various media are covered, such as painting, box assemblage, collage, photography, pottery, and sculpture. One artist named isn’t an individual but rather the Gee’s Bend Collective, “generations of African American women in Gee’s Bend, Alabama,” renowned for quilting artistry. Each artist and her or their work is introduced on a double-page spread that features succinct descriptions conveying much admiring, easily comprehensible information. Colorful illustrations include graphically simplified representations of the women at work or alongside examples of their art; the spreads provide ample space for readers to understand what the artists produced. Several women were alive when this volume was written; some died in the recent past or last century; two worked several hundred years ago, when female artists were rare. Commendably, the profiled artists are very diverse: African American, Latina, Native American, Asian, white, and multiethnic women are represented; this diversity is reflected in their work, as explained via texts and illustrations.

A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so. (minibiographies, discussion questions, art suggestions) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10872-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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