the space between you and me
is longer than forever
you are the sky and clouds and air
your feet are swift as sunlight
stretching across the skyline
like the daylong sun over the horizon
And with those first few lines of Firebird by Misty Copeland, the tears were already streaming down my face.
I'm a crier by nature so perhaps the fact that I was tearing up by page one doesn't hold much weight, but I generally don't cry at the beginning of a book. That was an unexpected turn of events, I must say.
So what is it that affected me so deeply? It wasn't just the words, but seeing them paired with Christopher Myers' emotional, sweeping illustrations, in addition to seeing the symbolism of the sparse text that truly moved me.
Firebird is the story of a young girl of color who aspires to be a ballerina someday, but sees only the obstacles before her.
me? I am gray as rain
heavy as naptime, low as a storm pressing on rooftops
You get the sense that Copeland is writing this story not only to all the African American girls who dream of being dancers, but also looking back at herself when she first started out. It is a book that is sure to win awards -- most likely a Coretta Scott King. But will the Caldecott committee give it some love as well? I think it certainly deserves it. Especially given how emotionally stirring the artwork is when paired with the text.
While not technically nonfiction, this would be a wonderful book for anyone who loves dance and wants to learn more about Copeland's background. The author's note at the end gives us further insight into her life and how she was led to dance. If you're looking for a gift for a young dancer, look no further!
Firebird by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers
Published: September 4, 2014
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Genre: Picture Book
Audience: Primary, Middle Grade
Disclosure: Book requested for review from publisher
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