A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream

A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream

by Kristy Dempsey, Floyd Cooper
     
 

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A story of little ballerinas with big dreams.

Little ballerinas have big dreams. Dreams of pirouettes and grande jetes, dreams of attending the best ballet schools and of dancing starring roles on stage. But in Harlem in the 1950s, dreams don’t always come true—they take a lot of work and a lot of hope. And sometimes hope is hard to come…  See more details below

Overview

A story of little ballerinas with big dreams.

Little ballerinas have big dreams. Dreams of pirouettes and grande jetes, dreams of attending the best ballet schools and of dancing starring roles on stage. But in Harlem in the 1950s, dreams don’t always come true—they take a lot of work and a lot of hope. And sometimes hope is hard to come by.
 
But the first African-American prima ballerina, Janet Collins, did make her dreams come true. And those dreams inspired ballerinas everywhere, showing them that the color of their skin couldn’t stop them from becoming a star.
 
In a lyrical tale as beautiful as a dance en pointe, Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper tell the story of one little ballerina who was inspired by Janet Collins to make her own dreams come true.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/04/2013
Growing up in 1950s Harlem, a girl dreams of being a ballerina, despite the huge obstacles of segregation and poverty. She’s urged on by her hardworking mother, mentored by the Ballet Master (who allows her “to join lessons each day/ from the back of the room,/ even though I can’t perform/ onstage with white girls”), and inspired by Janet Collins, the “first colored prima ballerina,” who makes her debut at Metropolitan Opera while the girl sits in the balcony with her mother. “It’s like Miss Collins is dancing for me,/ only for me,” she thinks as she imagines herself leaping through the air alongside the beautiful, supremely confident Collins, “showing me who I can be.” Although Dempsey’s (Surfer Chick) prose-poem tends to be somber and sentimental, Cooper’s (Max and the Tag-Along Moon) velvety, peach-hued pictures have passion, energy, and even flashes of humor, making the girl feel like a fully lived character. The story covers familiar inspirational territory, but has the benefit of serving as a brief introduction to the pioneering Collins. Ages 5–8. Author’s agent: Kendra Marcus, BookStop Literary Agency. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
01/01/2014
Gr 1–4—An African American girl from Harlem dreams of becoming a prima ballerina in this beautifully written narrative, which is also a tribute to Janet Collins, who, in 1951, was the "first colored prima ballerina" to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. While her mother cleans and sews costumes for the ballet school, the child grows up amid the fittings and rehearsals. One day she performs "…an entire dance in the wings, from beginning to final bow" well enough to impress the Ballet Master himself. He invites her to join the daily lessons despite the fact that she will be unable to perform onstage with his white pupils. When her hardworking Mama sees that Collins will be at the Met, she buys two tickets, "…even though it'll cost her half/of what she's put back for a new sewing machine." The aspiring dancer is entranced with the performance: "It's like Miss Collins is dancing for me/only for me/showing me who I can be." An author's note points out that Collins appeared at the Met four years before Marian Anderson's debut. Though the narrator is imagined, the inspirational message is real. Cooper's art incorporates his signature subtractive process and mixed media in tones of brown and pink to achieve illustrations as beautiful and transporting as the text. Pair this title with Pam Muñoz Ryan and Brian Selznick's When Marian Sang (Scholastic, 2002), and use this poetic offering for units on black history or women's history.—Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-10-20
Dreams do come true for a Harlem girl in the 1950s. Mama works hard sewing costumes for the ballet dancers at the old Metropolitan Opera House, and her daughter delights in trying them on and whirling around in front of a mirror. She even receives special permission from the Ballet Master to take class. But dreaming may not be enough. The skies over New York City are not clear enough to see the first star, the wishing star, and--more to the point--"Could a colored girl like me / ever become / a prima ballerina?" Then, one special night, the little girl and her mama attend a performance featuring Janet Collins, the first African-American dancer at the Met. Collins first danced there on November 13, 1951. Dempsey's expressive free verse is full of longing and dreams, all in the very believable voice of a ballet-loving girl. Cooper employs his signature style of textured art to lovingly capture Harlem in the '50s. His little dancer is equally beautiful waiting for a city bus or elegantly soaring as high as the lights of the theater in a pas de deux with Collins. A warm, inspirational collaboration that will resonate in the hearts of all who dream. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780698152908
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
01/02/2014
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
32
Lexile:
AD1100L (what's this?)
File size:
49 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Kristy Dempsey is a poet, writer, and librarian who is living her dreams in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She is also the author of Me With You, illustrated by Christopher Denise. You can visit her online at www.kristydempsey.com.
 
Floyd Cooper always dreamed of becoming an artist, and now has illustrated dozens of books for children. He received a Coretta Scott King Award for his illustrations in The Blacker the Berry and a Coretta Scott King Honor for his illustrations in Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea and I Have Heard of a Land . . . He lives in New Jersey with his family.  

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