You don’t find an easy reader memoir every day. This one’s a rare gem. It tells the story of a Sierra Leone war orphan who becomes fascinated with ballerina and eventually becomes a professional ballerina. It’s co-written by Michaela and Elaine DePrince, the ballerina and her mother.
I was especially impressed by the way the narrative weaves together so many difficult themes. The narrator talks about her skin condition, vitiligo, and the teasing she endured because of it. She tells the story of her adoption, describing the uncertainty as well as the thrill that went with getting a new family and a new country. She takes us through her obsession with ballet. She shows us the loneliness of being black in a predominantly white workplace.
It’s a lot for a single easy reader to tackle, but this text does it with grace. There’s a lot for any new reader–or any human!–to connect with here.
Ballerina Dreams: From Orphan to Dancer, by Michaela and Elaine DePrince, illustrated by Frank Morrison. Random House Step into Reading: 2014.