Monday, October 19, 2015

The Little Crooked Bookshelf

Swan, the Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova
by Laurel Snyder
illustrated by Julie Morstad

This week's bookshelf pick is from cottager Anika Denise

What it's all about...
Swan is a picture book biography of Anna Pavlova, one of the most famous and gifted prima ballerinas of all time.

Why it's on The Little Crooked Bookshelf...
Because it’s exquisite. The language is spare and delicate; the illustrations, jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Like a classic ballet, it builds steadily to the dramatic transformation of Anna into the Swan, then recedes gracefully through her later career and tragic early death.

Our favorite line(s)
she steps into the stage alone. . .
and sprouts white wings, a swan.
She weaves the notes, the very air
into a story.
All those sitting see.
They stare—
Anna is a bird in flight,
a whim of wind and water.
Quiet feathers in a big loud world.
Anna is the swan.

Our favorite illustration...
From Swan, by Laurel Snyder, © 2015 by Julie Morstad
Why kids will love it...
Any child interested in dance or the arts will be drawn to Swan. But all children can take something from this tale of modest beginnings, rise, triumph and tragedy. The essence of Pavlova’s unique life and talent is captured here, and children will respond to the transcendent spirit of it.

Why grown-ups will love it...
While truly a lovely stand-alone read, it also begs further conversation about life in a Czar-ruled Russia, class struggles, hope, dreams, determination, artistic expression, and the role of art in society. Snyder writes a lovely author’s note at the end about the lasting impact Pavolva made on the ballet world. Parents, teachers and librarians can use Swan, and Snyder’s closing essay, to spark an inspiring discussion in young readers.

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