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BEAUTIFUL BALLERINA by Marilyn Nelson

BEAUTIFUL BALLERINA

By Marilyn Nelson (Author) , Susan Kuklin (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-545-08920-4
Publisher: Scholastic

Four female Dance Theatre of Harlem students ranging from a little one in a community program to three in its Pre-Professional program pose and dance, photographed by Kuklin against solidly colored backgrounds. They are all picture-perfect subjects in their leotards and tutus, and endearing to boot, but the absence of scenery or even a studio environment results in simply a series of very lovely poses. Nelson, recipient of a Newbery Honor award and many other citations, a paean to ballet and to African-American ballerinas. They are not just beautiful. They “wear the slaves’ genes with nobility” and “bring a tiny hint of Africanness” to each move. Alas, readers will have to read the notes on Dance Theatre of Harlem, founded in 1968 to provide a welcoming and positive venue for black classical dancers, to bring understanding to this noble but misguided effort. The images do not truly illustrate the words, with the result an unfortunate disconnect between photography and text. The former is best suited to a young audience, the latter to older readers. (Picture book. 4-8)