Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 10/01/2015 Gr 2–5—The latest collaboration from this talented husband-and-wife team spotlights the childhood and career trajectory of the current artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. When Battle was "'no bigger than a loaf of bread,'" he was adopted and raised by his loving aunt and uncle and their adult daughter. Surrounded by spirituals at home and church, the boy was initially prevented from moving to the music due to painful, metal braces worn to straighten his legs. When the braces were removed, he gained strength and confidence through martial arts and then ballet and other styles. Cline-Ransome charts the young man's progress from an arts high school in Miami to Juilliard. Her narrative conveys salient details, such as the names of teachers, dance companies, and pieces, as well as Battle's emotional highs and lows. Evoking the master of the dance painting, Edgar Degas, Ransome's deft use of acrylic strokes makes readers aware of key moments in Ailey's signature piece, Revelations. Interspersed among full-color scenes of Easter bonnets and the Miami neighborhood are spreads depicting energetic studies of the dancer in motion, first as a child and later as a muscular, toned adult. This informative yet concise package includes a foreword by Battle (accompanied by photographs) and author and illustrator notes. VERDICT This story of the man who went on to assume the mantle of dance leadership will motivate aspiring dancers or choreographers and will be particularly meaningful to boys of color.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 11/01/2015 Robert Battle’s journey to become artistic director of the renowned African American dance company Alvin Ailey is an inspiring story, filled with lessons on following one’s passion. Born in Florida, Robert was raised by his aunt Anna, uncle Willie, and their daughter, whom Robert called “Mama Dessie.” His was a loving home filled with music and poetry. Despite wearing painful braces on his legs until he was six, Robert longed to dance and perform. By age 13, he had traded karate lessons for ballet, eventually gaining the notice of his high-school dance teacher, who helped him get into Miami’s New World School of the Arts. Robert would go on to study at Juilliard and form his own critically acclaimed dance company, Battleworks, before joining Alvin Ailey. Ransome’s rich, pastel illustrations are filled with expression and movement, showcasing individualized faces and dancers in motion. Occasionally text heavy, this is a picture book for independent readers, though younger kids will certainly enjoy hearing Robert’s story and admiring the beautiful artwork. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.