This slender volume accomplishes a great deal.



Accomplished ballerina Copeland pays homage to her predecessors and contemporaries in this roundup of Black ballerinas.

Copeland introduces this collection from her perspective as someone who was simply a proud Black girl growing up but whose identity became more complex when she became a professional dancer. The list of Black ballerinas included here features those who played a role in Copeland’s journey, whether they never met, had only one encounter, or enjoyed an ongoing relationship. Copeland aptly points out that biracial and light-skinned women are overrepresented in this list, as they are in the dance world, with colorism being an additional barrier for darker-skinned dancers. Among these talented, dedicated artists, whose birth years range from 1917 to 1998, patterns emerge: exclusion from the White world of ballet; perseverance; international travel for opportunities; giving back to their communities; and leaving strong legacies within the dance world—sometimes documented and sometimes not. Each ballerina’s ink–and-watercolor image appears with a quote of hers on a full page facing a page of densely set, small, gray text summarizing her dance career and personal connection to Copeland. Barnes’ gorgeous illustrations of these strong, graceful dancers are enough to keep readers turning pages. With each story, the landscape of an underappreciated community of dancers of color grows wider. The perspective of an insider to this world intensifies the intimacy and interest.

This slender volume accomplishes a great deal. (Biography. 11-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-534-47424-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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Quick, bright, danceable, and splashy, if only ankle deep.



A 40,000-year-long jam with an international cast of players and cultures.

The spirit of scat is definitely alive in the presentation, as each single-topic spread tosses together a busy collage of period images or photos with colored boxes filled with quick takes on a style or genre, significant instruments and technical innovations, and, for (relatively) more recent eras, select composers and performers from troubadour Castelloza to Rihanna. Moving quickly on from prehistoric bone flutes, the more-or-less chronological history focuses on the European and, later, North American scenes but does spare occasional nods for Indigenous and non-Western music. More often it lets distinctive styles from other continents take the stage—following introductions to Wagner and Puccini with a look at Asian opera, for instance, and giving Indipop, Afropop, J-pop, and K-pop quick solos of their own. Hip-hop and house music are invited to the party, but gangsta rap is not, nor is Tupac (or, for that matter, any reference to profanity, violence, or even drug or alcohol abuse). Still, themes of racial prejudice and identity do play through pages devoted to the blues, big bands, R&B, and rock-’n’-roll, and the balance of men and women artists is carefully measured from the outset. Frequent leads to relevant musical selections on the web furnish a soundtrack.

Quick, bright, danceable, and splashy, if only ankle deep. (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3541-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A thorough recounting of Nansen’s unfairly half-forgotten achievements—colorful, exhausting, compelling reading.



A vivid (sometimes all too much so) account of Norwegian scientist, explorer, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Fridtjof Nansen’s 1893-1896 try for the North Pole.

Though the Nansen expedition was possibly even more meticulously planned than Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic venture, both had similar results—neither reached their goals, but both endured weary months of such wild mischances that it seems miraculous that neither lost a man. Lourie (Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush, 2017, etc.) draws generously from Nansen’s detailed records to describe the special gear and provisions he, in many cases, invented or improvised (“meat-chocolate,” yum, giving way in later, more desperate, times to “cold boiled bear and a few ounces of bread”), to introduce his human and canine crews (the latter eventually becoming their own food supply), and to retrace the trek’s route. The highly informative appendix includes a wealth of information, including conversations with modern polar explorers that present a picture of what being out on the arctic ice is like…highlighted by guidelines for pooping outdoors in subzero temperatures. Though the many sepia-toned maps and photographs are too often dim and foggy, the images add both flavor and immediacy to the narrative. Only glancing mention is made of all Nansen learned from the Inuit residents who aided him.

A thorough recounting of Nansen’s unfairly half-forgotten achievements—colorful, exhausting, compelling reading. (author’s note, aftermatter, appendix, sources, bibliography and resources, websites, image credits, index) (Nonfiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-13764-7

Page Count: 337

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

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