In this lyrical autobiography, ballerina Misty Copeland speaks to a young, uncertain dancer, encouraging her to prepare, to practice, and mostly to believe in her ability to dance. The text has none of the dates or places of the birth-to-death biography but is instead a spiritual account of the internal process needed to succeed in ballet.
You won’t hear from this book that Copeland is one of the great modern ballerinas or that she was born in poverty or that she became, just a few months ago, the first female African American principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater. The book’s language is lovely, but it will have even more meaning if you first dig into Copeland’s life a bit–perhaps at her website or by watching the new movie about her life. Copeland includes a letter to the reader at the back of the book, but it talks more about why she wrote the book than about where she came from. I would have loved a much longer, more detail-oriented back essay here. But luckily there are other resources to fill the gap.
Teachers might think about comparing this autobiography to Yuyi Morales’ biography of Frida Kahlo, Viva Frida. Both use lyricism and imagery to describe artists.
Firebird: Ballerina Misty Copeland shows a Young Girl How to Dance Like the Firebird by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers. G. P. Putnam’s: 2014.