For ballerinas in training and in spirit.

TRAILBLAZER

THE STORY OF BALLERINA RAVEN WILKINSON

Tracing a line directly from Wilkinson to Misty Copeland, Schubert highlights racism and prejudice in America and in ballet as well as the recent breaking of one barrier.

Wilkinson, born in 1935 to an upper-class African-American family in New York City, fell in love with classical ballet at an early age and was determined to dance. She was invited to join the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo at the age of 20. Unfortunately, touring through America’s Southern states brought danger, threats, forced segregation, and ugly encounters with the Ku Klux Klan. She left ballet briefly, then danced in Europe, before finally returning to America for a long career with the New York City Opera. Misty Copeland, recently promoted to principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre—its first African-American—credits Wilkinson as a mentor in the book’s final scene. A color photograph of the two women after Copeland’s debut performance in Swan Lake is a beautiful inspiration to young ballerinas of color. Schubert’s research included an interview with Wilkinson, quotations from which allow her to speak to readers with her own voice. Taylor’s digitized artwork depicts scenes from the rehearsal studio and the stage along with ugly episodes of Klan activity. His people are expressive, but their firm, black outlines and flat, solid coloring cause them to lack the delicacy associated with this ethereal art form.

For ballerinas in training and in spirit. (foreword, afterword, author’s note, ballet terms, partial bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0592-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Lacking structure.

BOTTLE TOPS

THE ART OF EL ANATSUI

An introduction to the work of El Anatsui.

In this half-baked biography of the acclaimed Ghanaian artist, Goldberg attempts to string together a comprehensive description of the subject’s life and art—with special attention to his striking sculptures made from bottle caps—and the politics that shaped both. Compelling illustrations—in paint and collage and supported with photographs of Anatsui’s original works in the backmatter—convey aspects of the artist’s life, though they may not hold a young reader’s attention as well as a sparkling, 30-foot-tall fabric sculpture. With little to no background on how Anatsui rose to prominence in the global art scene and only the lightest of touches on the political background in Ghana, why he left to live in Nigeria, or why the trans-Atlantic slave trade might be an important topic for his art, the writing lacks a clear driving theme or message. Passable for those familiar with the work but otherwise flimsy, this book falls prey to the trap of oversimplification on too many fronts, among them the development of an artist, the importance of contemporary African art abroad, and the concept of reusing and recycling; even the “art activity” proposed in the backmatter leaves something to be desired. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Lacking structure. (author’s note, text sources, quotation sources) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-62014-966-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A book to share that celebrates an immigrant and his abiding love for his adopted country, its holidays, and his “home sweet...

IRVING BERLIN, THE IMMIGRANT BOY WHO MADE AMERICA SING

A Jewish immigrant from Russia gives America some of its most iconic and beloved songs.

When Israel Baline was just 5 years old, his family fled pogroms in the Russian Empire and landed in New York City’s Lower East Side community. In the 1890s the neighborhood was filled with the sights, smells, and, most of all, sounds of a very crowded but vibrant community of poor Europeans who sailed past the Statue of Liberty in New York’s harbor to make a new life. Israel, who later became Irving Berlin, was eager to capture those sounds in music. He had no formal musical training but succeeded grandly by melding the rich cantorial music of his father with the spirit of America. Churnin’s text focuses on Berlin’s early years and how his mother’s words were an inspiration for “God Bless America.” She does not actually refer to Berlin as Jewish until her author’s note. Sanchez’s digital illustrations busily fill the mostly dark-hued pages with angular faces and the recurring motif of a very long swirling red scarf, worn by Berlin throughout. Librarians should note that the CIP information and the timeline are on pages pasted to the inside covers.

A book to share that celebrates an immigrant and his abiding love for his adopted country, its holidays, and his “home sweet home.” (author’s note, timeline) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-939547-44-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more