Book review #284: A Dance Like Starlight: one ballerina’s dream #bookaday

A Dance Like Starlight coverby Kristy Dempsey; illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Picture book
Interest level: K-5
Reading level: 6.0


This picture book is like an amazing ballet that combines beautifully descriptive lyrical text with stunning illustrations. The story is set in New York City in the 1950s and features a young girl who dreams of becoming a prima ballerina. She is African American and, at that time, this dream seems unattainable, but she has two amazing role models in her life that bring it within her reach — her mother, and Janet Collins, who became the first African American prima ballerina to dance with the Met. The girl learns that you can’t trust wishing on stars to make dreams come true (especially in the big city where you can’t see the stars), but hard work and hope can take you where you want to go.young ballerina image from A Dance Like Starlight

The illustrations are stunning and perfectly fit the tone of the story. The text is narrative verse that is emotionally descriptive:

It’s like Miss Collins is dancing for me,
only for me,
showing me who I can be.
All my hoping
wells up and spills over,
dripping all my dreams onto my Sunday dress.

This would be a great book to include with studies on discrimination and civil rights in the United States. It reminds me of JOSEPHINE: THE DAZZLING LIFE OF JOSEPHINE BAKER, another wonderful title that was published this year.

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