This beautifully illustrated book tells the fictionalized story of Kathryn Kozah (mother of the author) through the eyes of her older sister, Anna. When they are young, Anna and Katya dream of being dancers, and Katya loves the story of the picture of the ballerina in "The Dance Class" painted by Degas that Anna has seen in her teacher's book. Even after Katya falls victim to polio, Anna "dances" her younger sister around the grassy area by the family pond and the girls keep up Katya's dream. But when Mama takes Katya to Minneapolis for a necessary surgery on Katya's legs and Katya comes back in heavy braces, Anna is not sure what to do to bring her sister's spirits back up. When Katya finally asks to go back to the pond, Anna is ready. She provides Katya with beautiful white gloves decorated with long, pink ribbons, and encourages her sister to dance with her hands. This is an incredibly touching book about sisterly love and family support. It is also a solid addition for those looking for shorter pieces of historical fiction. This book is well worth its price tag.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Anna and her little sister, Katya, love to dance together and pretend to be ballerinas. At the age of five, the younger child contracts polio and becomes disabled. She wonders if she will ever be able to dance again. Anna is hopeful, but, despite treatment, her sister remains unable even to walk without the aid of braces. She buys some dainty white gloves and sews pink ribbons on them to make ballerina gloves, and Katya is able to dance with her arms, which strengthens her spirit. The delicate watercolor illustrations are marred by inconsistencies in the drawings of the characters. Personal notes from both the author and illustrator tell how polio affected their families. An explanation of the disease, including details of President Roosevelt's affliction, is helpful. A sincere, nostalgic effort.-Debbie Stewart Hoskins, Grand Rapids Public Library, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
When her younger sister contracts polio, a farm girl finds a way to bring wonder and joy back into her life. Anna and her sister Katya have always loved to dance together, pretending to be ballerinas. After five-year-old Katya suffers from polio, her legs remain so weak and crooked she can barely walk with crutches. Anna promises Katya she will dance again, but wonders if Katya will even be able to walk. Anna is hopeful when Mama takes Katya to specialists in Minneapolis. Katya returns home walking, but she must wear heavy metal braces to support her legs. A depressed Katya tells Anna she will never be able to dance in her ugly braces. Anna, however, manages to erase Katya's sadness and help her dance in her own special way. Lovely realistic watercolors capture the look and feel of early 20th-century Midwestern farm life, as well as the mood and spirit of the two sisters. A warm and inspiring tribute to one sister's love and the other's courage. (author and illustrator notes) (Picture book. 6-10)