Ballerina Dreams by Michaela DePrince and Elaine DePrince
|Ballerina Dreams by Michaela DePrince and Elaine DePrince|
|Category: Children's Non-Fiction|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: A lovely, uplifting story about leaping after your dreams, this is a perfect read for fans of ballet|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 80||Date: April 2017|
|Publisher: Faber & Faber|
|External links: Author's website|
Africa is a place full of music and rhythm and joy of movement. It is not, however, always a place for the structured tuition and commitment required by ballet. Sometimes there are more pressing issues than whether your pointe shoes are darned or whether you have a pianist available or will have to dance to pre-recorded music. For Michaela, growing up in Sierra Leone, although she had dreams of dancing, her day to day concerns were more simple: where was her next meal coming from, and who was going to look after her now she had been left orphaned by the war.
I was drawn to this story because not only did I spend over a decade in formal ballet tutelage, many years later I spent time living and working in Sierra Leone. This is not her first book, but is a special edition for younger readers and it's beautifully done, telling of Michaela's rise to stardom from a refugee camp to a loving adopted home in the USA with a family who gave her the opportunity to follow her dreams.
This is a ballet story lots of young dancers will identify with. At one point she says that she was able to start ballet once her English was good enough… only to find everything was in French. I still remember the vocab books we had for grades, and the way we would be tested on the terminology in exams. The only thing that surprised me was that Michaela went en pointe at age 7 which is earlier than one would usually do in England.
As with all the best heroines, Michaela has feats to overcome. Not only is she adopted, but she's also black and suffers from a skin condition, all things you can be teased about unfairly as a child. There are still not many professional black ballerinas in the top companies, but Michaela shows that when you put your mind to something, anything is possible.
This book, perfect for young readers, is well presented with easy text, a clear font and lovely illustrations. It's in chapter form but at under 60 pages is not an insurmountable challenge for reading alone, though would be a lovely one to share too.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy to review. As a young dancer I devoured anything and everything to do with ballet, both fiction and non-fiction. If your little ones are the same we can also recommend My Ballet Dream by Adele Geras and Shelagh McNicholas and Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
You can read more book reviews or buy Ballerina Dreams by Michaela DePrince and Elaine DePrince at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Ballerina Dreams by Michaela DePrince and Elaine DePrince at Amazon.com.
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