Alvin Ailey

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In their first children's book collaboration, this markedly talented husband-and-wife team offers a warm profile of dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey (1931-1989), whose dance company lives on today. The author deftly combines elements of fiction and biography, intertwining Ailey's alleged thoughts and conversations with facts about his childhood, his introduction to the world of dance in Los Angeles during the mid-1940s and his founding of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City in 1958. This effective amalgam of genres easily draws the reader into Ailey's life, lending it appeal for those previously unacquainted with the legendary artist as well as for young fans eager to learn how Ailey launched his impressive career. Matching the finesse of the writing are Brian Pinkney's signature scratchboard renderings handpainted with oil pastels, which manage to convey stateliness as well as quickness, and which culminate in a vivid, motion-filled spread featuring dancers in Ailey's company reeling across the stage--and seemingly right off the pages. Ages 5-9. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Andrea Pinkney and her husband Brian Pinkney collaborated to bring alive the life and spirit of Alvin Ailey. This book is a tribute to a man who changed forever African-American choreography and performance and the world of modern dance. The Pinkneys words and scratchboard illustrations honor the man and capture his whirling movements in a way children can understand. The book was selected for a Horn Book Fanfare award.
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
Alvin Ailey was that rare force that changes the world forever. His world was dance. This dramatic children's book celebrates the life of the dancer from Texas. The story rocks and sways with movement in this simple biography of a man who "moved smooth like quicksilver" and never let loose his dream to dance. The illustrations were created with an alluring artistic technique where a black overlay is etched carefully to reveal a subtle, underlying rainbow of colors.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
A picture book describing the life, dancing, and choreography of Alvin Ailey. Dynamic scratchboard illustrations.
Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
For youngsters eager for more about gifted dancers (or a well-written biography), have on hand: Andrea Davis Pinkney's Alvin Ailey. The scratchboard illustrations graphically depict dancers whirling and swirling in this paean to one of the greats in modern dance.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-An accessible picture-book biography that recounts Ailey's boyhood in Texas and his roots in the black church, moves with him and his mother to Los Angeles where he begins to dance, and then proceeds on to New York where he hones his talents and forms his own troupe. Brian Pinkney's marvelously detailed scratchboard drawings are tinted with pastels to show the sweep and flow of dancers caught in the act of leaping, twirling, and soaring through the air. His figures are large and bold, reflecting the spiritual and creative energy of Ailey himself and the performance artists who brought his choreography to life. As such, the book is both informative and inspiring and will make an excellent addition to most collections.-Carol Jones Collins, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786810772
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 9/28/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 360,467
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: AD880L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrea Davis Pinkney has written several acclaimed books for middle grade readers, including the novels Bird in a Box, a Today Show Al Roker Book Club pick, and With the Might of Angels, a book in the Dear America series. She is also the author of the nonfiction book Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor winner. Andrea's many picture books include Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down, a New York Times best-seller and a Jane Addams Honor Book, which was illustrated by her husband, Brian Pinkney. She and her family live in Brooklyn, New York.

Brian Pinkney ( has frequently collaborated with his wife, Andrea Davis Pinkney. Some of their other books include, Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride, Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation, and Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra, for which Brian was awarded a Caldecott Honor. Brian was also a Caldecott Honoree for The Faithful Friend by Robert D. San Souci , and he won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for In the Time of the Drums by Kim L.Siegelson.

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