Words by Marilyn Nelson
Photographs by Susan Kuklin
Scholastic Press, 2009
Platinum Award, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, 2010
Beautiful Ballerina brings the power of dance to the art of poetry with the help and talent of ballerinas from the school of The Dance Theatre of Harlem. On today’s ever-changing cultural stage, ballerinas come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities.
I’ve always been interested in what’s happening backstage. To see what went into photographing these absolutely beautiful ballerinas, visit this page. There are plenty of extra photographs that are not in the book.
“In this pared-down picture book, multi-award-winning Nelson’s moving poem, addressed directly to young dancers, makes a harmonious match with Kuklin’s expressive photos of real-life students at the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Each spread combines rhythmic lines with a photo of a young ballerina in motion, highlighted against the emptiness of a colored background…children won’t need to be black, or female, or even dancers to find inspiration in the graceful words and in the pictures of the focused, joyful, and wholly engaged young African American ballerinas.”—Booklist
“The description “poetry in motion” may be taken quite literally in this paean to the young dancers who train at the Dance Theatre of Harlem. The heartfelt poem’s playful words could make a lively read-aloud dance-along, and young balletomanes will be intrigued by the girls in the photographs. The phrase “Beautiful ballerina, you are the dance” is repeated throughout and invites audience participation…The crisp photographs of elegant, female African-American dancers stand out against solid backgrounds of varying pastel shades. The layout of text and photographs varies with each spread, which creates a sense of movement and energy as one turns the page.”—School Library Journal
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