An Unlike­ly Ballerina

Krysty­na Poray God­du; Cosei Kawa, illus.

  • Review
By – June 11, 2018

This is a fas­ci­nat­ing read about the dancer who would some­day be known as Ali­cia Marko­va. Lily Marks loves to stand on her tip­toes, but her legs are weak and crooked. Could danc­ing lessons help strength­en them? To every­one’s sur­prise, Lily proves to have a nat­ur­al tal­ent for danc­ing, and becomes utter­ly devot­ed to prac­tic­ing. The high point of her child­hood is see­ing inter­na­tion­al bal­let star Anna Pavlo­va per­form, and receiv­ing an invi­ta­tion to dance for her. Now there’s no turn­ing back; Lily com­mits ful­ly to becom­ing a ballerina.

An end­note tells read­ers that Pavlo­va had a Jew­ish par­ent, though she nev­er pub­licly acknowl­edged her her­itage; Lily’s par­ents were also Jewish.

High­ly styl­ized illus­tra­tions com­ple­ment the sto­ry beau­ti­ful­ly. Note that the Jew­ish con­tent is restrict­ed to the note at the back of the book. 

Leslie Kim­mel­man grew up out­side Philadel­phia and grad­u­at­ed from Mid­dle­bury Col­lege in Ver­mont. She is the author of many children’s books, awards for which include Best Children’s Books of the Year from the Bank Street Col­lege of Edu­ca­tion; Notable Children’s Trade Books in the Field of Social Stud­ies; and Syd­ney Tay­lor Notable Books. Kim­mel­man is an edi­tor at Sesame Work­shop and lives with her fam­i­ly just north of New York City.

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