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Ballerina Swan by Allegra Kent

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Allegra Kent has authored a children's book called "Ballerina Swan", which is illustrated by Caldecott-winning illustrator Emily Arnold McCully and will be published later this month.

Here is the publisher's description:


New York, NY—February 2012. Ballerina Swan, by world-renowned prima ballerina and Balanchine dancer Allegra Kent, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Emily Arnold McCully (Holiday House, April 2012, $16.95), encourages children to pursue their goals with passion and hard work.

Sophie, a swan, loves to watch the dancers in Madam Myrtle’s Dance Studio stretch and turn and leap. She wishes with all her heart to join them; but when she tries, Madam shoos her away. Then one day a new teacher comes to the class; she allows Sophie to stay and encourages her to work hard. This message of perseverance will ring true for children of all ages as the unlikely ballerina achieves her dreams in spite of the odds.

Paired with illustrations by Caldecott Medal winner and ballet enthusiast Emily Arnold McCully, this irresistible story of pursuing one’s passions will have readers cheering for the feathered ballerina. Emily McCully draws upon her enthusiasm for ballet as well as her own artistic talent to create paintings with elegant cityscapes, expressive gestures, and an exquisite swan whose body language communicates hope, shame, dejection, grace, and of course good ballet technique—all attributes with which young readers will identify!


I've just pre-ordered it via our amazon.com box at the bottom of the page. Estimated release date is 20 February 2012.

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I received my copy, and it's a lovely book and story. I'm particularly taken by the illustrations by Emily Arnold McCully, who invokes the characters beautifully. (The cover photo looks like a depiction of the four young girls in "Mozartiana" with the swan overhead.) I love how McCully draws the evolution of the swan's dancing, from her early steps until she masters turnout.

I feel like any more description will be a spoiler.

I think this would be a great present for a child of any age interested in ballet.

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Joan Accocella has a short review in the May 14 New Yorker (Talk of the Town section). the piece includes a short but quite insightful bit of biography.

Don't know whether this is available online to non-subscribers, but my two favorite bits are:

The effort that Kent put into ballet -- and that her fans ignored, thinking she was an act of God -- is the subject, comically reconceived, of "Ballerina Swan."-


Like most good children's books, "Ballerina Swan" is also a good adult book. "I worked so hard," Kent said. "But then the whole idea of ballet is that the work isn't supposed to show. It should look spontaneous. But you want the effort to show somewhat. You know, passion is also work."

Another review, from the New York Times, is linked by dirac, here. It includes six of the color illustrations by Emily Arnold McCully. Thanks, dirac.


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