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A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream
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A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  775 Ratings  ·  170 Reviews
A story of little ballerinas with big dreams.

Little ballerinas have big dreams. Dreams of pirouettes and grande jetes, dreams of attending the best ballet schools and of dancing starring roles on stage. But in Harlem in the 1950s, dreams don’t always come true—they take a lot of work and a lot of hope. And sometimes hope is hard to come by.
But the first African-America
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 2nd 2014 by Philomel Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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(showing 1-30)
Rating details
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Jim Erekson
Cooper's palette, settings, clothing are spot-on. It looks like a 1940s-1950s set and cast! Once in the 70s when everyone was all romantic about the 50s I asked my mom what those days looked like, and she said she remembered almost everything was brown. All the pink and candy-apple red in the tv shows and movies was exaggerated, rare color for a very muted time. Cooper does much to set the tone and to emphasize accuracy as an expectation for this historical fiction piece.

The best thing about De
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This book has it all. The art - glorious. The story - inspiring. The history - revealing. The text - lyrical.
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Suggested Grade Levels: 2nd-5th Grade
Genre: Historical Fiction
Themes: Self-Discovery, Growing-Up, and Perseverance.
Awards: Golden Kite Award for Picture Book

Many little girls dream of becoming a beautiful ballerina when they grow up, but if you were a little girl of color in the 1950’s that dream might not seem like a reality. A little girl whose mother is the seamstress for a local ballet school grows up watching the ballet and dreams to become a ballerina herself one day. She is granted specia
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
A story in which African American young girl dreams of being a ballerina and the memorable night she spends with her mother watching the first African American ballerina, Janet Collins, dance with the Metropolitan Opera.

Text is lyrical which reflects its subject and mixed media artwork really highlights the hazy beauty of dreams/aspirations. PreK-2.
Amy Forrester
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Full of beautiful and inspiring imagery, Dempsey’s poetic text is written from the perspective of a young African-American girl in the 1950’s. A girl who hardly dares to hope that her dream of becoming a ballerina could ever come true. But then she sees Janet Collins, the first “colored” prima ballerina, perform at the Met and she can feel hope rising around her. The dreamy mixed media illustrations, soft-edged and sepia toned, pair nicely with Dempsey’s precisely worded text, full of hope and l ...more
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rll-538
This is story set in the 50's that shows how hard it was at the time to achieve your dreams as an african american. Kristy Demsey follows the story of a girl who followed her dreams to become the first African american ballerina in the 1950's. This story is a beautiful story that shows children that dreams can happen if you work hard and don't give up. It also is a great window into the struggles that many black americans faced at that time simply because their skin was a different color.
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Full-bleed illustrations in a warm and glowing color pallete from cover to cover. This is an inspiring story of dancer Janet Collins, who in November of 1951 became the first African American hired to perform with the Metropolitan Opera. The fictionalized mother and daughter in the book represent the dreams and hopes of those lifted up by Ms. Collin's achievements.
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Gorgeously detailed, lifelike and expressive illustrations are the highlight of this book about dreaming big.
Shakea Althea Conyers
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After reading the fiction based picture book "A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream" , I think this book was well written and enjoyable.This children's book is written by the author Kristy Dempsey and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. This book won the "Golden Kite Award For Picture Book Text". The age groups this book is intended for is the ages ranging 4 years old to 8 years old.
This book is about a young African-American girl growing up in the 1950s who dreams of one day becoming a dancer
Jessica Pinkman
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In 'A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream' a little ballerina has big dreams. Unfortunately in 1950's Harlem, big dreams are hard to come by and they take a lot of hard work. But she works anyways. She watches the ballerina's at her mama's work and copies their moves, teaching herself as she goes. Soon catching the eye of the Ballet Master and getting one step closer to making her dreams a reality.
Janet Collins, the first colored prima ballerina, helps boost her hope, showing he
Cheriee Weichel
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
A young black girl dreams of becoming a ballet dancer. Although she is unable to dance with the white girls, the ballet master recognizes her talent and lets her participate in lessons at the back of the room. Then she went to see Janet Collins, the first colored prima ballerina, on stage at the Metropolitan Opera House and felt like Miss Collins was dancing just for her.
The lyrical text is breaks into concrete format in some sections. Floyd Cooper's illustrations make those words sing.
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dance, future-dibbun, nyc
This is in verse and told beautifully. It's a story about hope and dreams, dancing, and role models. The main character is a young black dancer, but Janet Collins, the first (female?) black ballet dancer at the Met, is also featured.

I really liked the illustration style and the colors used.
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
I've never heard of Janet Collins, the first African American to have a contract to perform with the Metropolitan Opera. Collins was a ballerina. She was absolutely amazing. This story is inspiring and the artwork is brilliant.
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great book for a young child with a dream that seems impossible to accomplish, especially a dream to dance. Talks about racial prejudice, overcoming obstacles and being inspired by those who came before you.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Grades 1-5
Great story and very inspiring message. This has soft and pretty illustrations. It is a story about a black girl who longs to dance on the stage with the white girls. She never gives up her dream. It has been very popular at my school. Highly recommend for grades 1-5.
Brenna Hendler
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This a great book to encourage readers to pursue their dreams and know that they can achieve anything. The illustrations are wonderful and detailed the story is easy to follow for young readers k-3.
Jo Oehrlein
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dance, picture-books
A fiction story about a young black dancer inspired by the dancers she sees in a dance studio (where her mom works as a cleaner) and by Janet Collins, the first black ballet dancer at the Metropolitan Opera.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it liked it
I personally think this book is adorable.
The kids, however, were clearly underwhelmed. Lots of yawning, and lots of spontaneous, "this is boring", and "do we have to finish this book?"
I'll keep trying to promote this with another class. Maybe with another class it will resonate.
Maggie Mattmiller
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Gorgeous illustrations and the text feels so lyrical, so beautiful.
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I love stories about dance. This one was ok.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is about a colored girl that lives in poverty who wants to make a wish on a star. Her mom tells her not to waste a wish on a star, isntead she should focus on her dreams and making them come true.
Teachable points: dreams, work on your dreams, dont give up, diversity, ballet
Non-Fiction - ADance Like Starlight by Kristy Dempsey is such an inspirational story for not only young African America girls but all girls around the world. This story is about a young African American girl who grew up in Harlem NYC with dreams of becoming a ballerina. The color of her skin and the community in which she was raised in made it almost impossible for her to follow her dreams With the help of her mother and having hope of following those dreams, she was inspired and able to overcom ...more
A fictionalized story about a little girl who dreams big in hopes of becoming a ballet dancer like her idol, Janet Collins, the first African-American ballet performer to dance at the Metropolitan Opera. Watching her mother work hard every day to earn money, she hopes and dreams hard to achieve her dreams.

A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream is graced with Floyd Cooper's magical illustrations which serve to make the story come alive.
Heather Gettys
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: diversity
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
While this book is not strictly categorized as “poetry,” the author is a poet, and the text of this book reads like free verse, as with this description of a ballet performance:

When she glides onto the stage,
I don’t know
if I am dreaming,
if I am even breathing,
because she doesn’t seem to touch the floor.
She twirls and
my heart jumps up from where I’m sitting,
soaring, dancing,
opening wide with the swell of the music.”

The story is narrated by a fictional young African American girl in New York in t
Tammy J
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical-fic
This book was written in 2014 so it is fairly new. I saw it on the shelf at the library and thought it might be a good read. I always for some reason pick up books about ballerina's because I find them so fascinating and always wanted to be one. My first thought just about the jacket cover was that is represented someone of color and not someone who is so thin but a normal healthy size for a girl. There is a quote on the inside of the book that says that her mama always supported her through all ...more
Amy Ackerman
Rationale: A Dance Like Starlight-One Ballerina’s Dream was chosen as a Notable Children’s book of 2015 by the American Library Association. This book is culturally specific to the African American students. The story is about a young black girl who dreams of becoming a ballerina. “Could a colored girl like me ever become a prima ballerina?” (p.13) She knows it will be a struggle due to the color of her skin. She is able to participate in a ballet class at the theatre where her mother is a seams ...more
Danielle Dykstra
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book! The words painted a beautiful picture in this story. I think it is an inspiring read for all children who are wishing/dreaming for something.
Each night a young girl in New York City wishes on a start and dreams of becoming a ballerina. Her more practical-minded mother suggests that hard work supports dreams, and she keeps that admonition in mind. During that segregated era, she couldn't perform with the other girls, but she takes classes in the back of the room. When her mother arranges for her daughter to attend a performance by Janet Collins, the first African-American prima ballerina, the girl is mesmerized, moved by how Collins i ...more
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Librarian at The American School of Belo Horizonte

Children's Author:
ME WITH YOU (Philomel)
MINI RACER (Bloomsbury)
More about Kristy Dempsey