From the Publisher
“Thompson frames (the girls') story as one of a dream come true . . . and in describing the girls' work with their teacher . . . the author stresses what these girls might have in common with the audience--their excitement, their delight in their tutus and tiaras, their last-minute jitters, their unmistakable pleasure in dancing . . . The insightful presentation encourages readers not only to identify with the dancers, but to draw inspiration from them as well.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“This is an inspiring portrayal of determination and love that will foster empathy among young readers. The colorful photographs of this dancing community working toward a common goal accurately and sensitively capture the struggles and joyful enthusiasm of all of the participants.” School Library Journal, starred review
“Ballerina Dreams is a beautifully photographed book . . . what comes across most strongly is the matching joy on all of (the girls') faces as they demonstrate the skills they have honed . . . a lovely gift to aspiring young dancers of all abilities.” National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD)
“Inspiring.” The Washington Post
“This lovely book focuses on five little girls who long desperately to be ballerinas on stage . . . the overwhelming theme is simply joy. An example of a small idea making things better for a small group of children, this program is truly noteworthy, as is its loving founder.” Kirkus Reviews
“The images of openly thrilled performers, all supported from behind by teen helpers, are affecting in the extreme. With adult guidance, this will support character education units about perseverance, and young dancers drawn by the pink jacket (which doesn't hint at the girls' physical challenges) will emerge with a new empathy for those whose outward differences tend to set them apart.” Booklist
“[Ballerina Dreams] could go a long way to teach tolerance to today's youth, and remind adults that no dream is out of reach.” Oklahoma Gazette
“Get out the Kleenex! Ballerina Dreams by Lauren Thompson is such a charming, heartwarming, bittersweet book that you cannot fail to be moved.” Readia: Children's Book Reviews (blog)
“Five little girls with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities share the dream of becoming ballerinas. With their powerful determination and the help of several committed teachers, these little girls get the chance to realize their dreams. …This touching story would be a useful resource in an early childhood educational setting as an example of individuals with different abilities or disabilities, and its message of determination in the face of adversity is one that parents and educators of children of all ages would find useful.” Children's Literature
Like millions of other young people throughout the country, five little girls in Bayside, Queens, dreamed of being ballerinas. This quintet of beauties faced special challenges. Each of them coped daily with cerebral palsy or other major physical disabilities. But wheelchairs, walkers, and leg braces notwithstanding, these brave young girls were determined to become dancers. And with the help of a dedicated teacher, they did just that. Ballerina Dreams recounts the achievement of five little miracle makers who could.
Children's Literature - Carly Reagan
Five little girls with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities share the dream of becoming ballerinas. With their powerful determination and the help of several committed teachers, these little girls get the chance to realize their dreams. A true story illustrated with beautiful photographs taken by James Estrin, the book follows five real little girls named Abbey, Monica, Nicole, Shekinah, and Veronica from ballet class to recital, where they show that working hard has helped them to become ballerinas in spite of their physical disabilities. The technical ballet terms and detailed descriptions of what the girls do in practice and performance are sure to please any child who loves ballet, while remaining appropriate for young readers. The plentiful photographs capture the personalities of the girls, making it possible for even a very young child to follow. This touching story would be a useful resource in an early childhood educational setting as an example of individuals with different abilities or disabilities, and its message of determination in the face of adversity is one that parents and educators of children of all ages would find useful.
School Library Journal
Five adorable little girls are given the opportunity to learn to dance like ballerinas and eventually perform on stage. This is no small accomplishment since the girls have cerebral palsy and other muscle disorders and several wear leg braces. To inspire them, their teacher, who is a dancer and physical therapist, gives each of them a glittery tiara and a wand. Assistance is provided to them, as needed, by helpers between the ages of 11 and 16 who work with them during each class and at the recital. As the children learn the steps, their confidence improves and their muscles grow stronger. Finally on the day of the recital, the excitement of makeup and lovely costumes combines with the magic of performing to the beautiful music from The Nutcracker and Swan Lake as they realize their dreams. This is an inspiring portrayal of determination and love that will foster empathy among young readers. The colorful photographs of this dancing community working toward a common goal accurately and sensitively capture the struggles and joyful enthusiasm of all of the participants.
Carol ScheneCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
This lovely book focuses on five little girls who long desperately to be ballerinas on stage. Each has a disability, such as cerebral or Erbs palsy, that affects leg and arm muscles. Fortunately, Joann Ferrara, a woman who wanted to make a difference, began ballet classes for children with these illnesses. Thompson recounts the process of practice, the fun of costumes and bright makeup and the show that the girls ultimately present for their parents. There are more photographs than text, clearly conveying the joy these children feel dancing in their tutus. The text is pithy but leaves the reader with great admiration for Ferrara and the difference she has made in these little ballerinas' sense of confidence and self-worth. The photographs show the difficulties encountered by these girls as well as the range of ability of motion. However, the overwhelming theme is simply joy. An example of a small idea making things better for a small group of children, this program is truly noteworthy, as is its loving founder. Includes information about Ferrara (as well as the girls' helpers) and symptoms and treatments for cerebral palsy. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-8)
Read an Excerpt
Once upon a time there were five little girls who shared a dream. They wanted to be ballerinas and dance on stage like their sisters and cousins and friends.
But it would be hard for these girls to make their dream come true. They had cerebral palsy or other physical disabilities, which meant their muscles didn’t move the way they wanted them to. Some wore leg braces. Some used wheelchairs and walkers to get around. But these girls were determined. They had a dedicated teacher. Every week they practiced. They worked hard. And one day they were ready.
Ballerina Dreams is an inspiring true story of love, hope and courage for everyone and anyone who has ever wished (and worked) hard enough to make their dreams come true.
Lauren Thompson loved ballet class when she was a child, although she never got the chance to participate in a ballet recital. In creating Ballerina Dreams, she drew inspiration from her own memories as well as from conversations with the girls, their parents, and their teacher, Joann Ferrara. Ms. Thompson worked as a children’s book editor for eighteen years before becoming a full-time writer. Her many picture books include Polar Bear Night, which was a New York Times bestseller, and the Mouse’s First and Little Quack series, and most recently, The Apple Pie That Papa Baked. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and son.
James Estrin is a senior staff photographer for the New York Times and was part of a New York Times Pulitzer prize-winning team. His work has appeared in dozens of books, including A Nation Challenged, Portraits of Grief, The Century in Times Square, and Jews in America, and in thousands of newspapers and magazines throughout the world. He lives in Scarsdale, New York, with his wife, the writer Randy Banner, and their two children, Elizabeth and Marshall.