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Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  947 ratings  ·  245 reviews
A picture book about the making of Martha Graham's Appalachian Spring, her most famous dance performance

Martha Graham : trailblazing choreographer

Aaron Copland : distinguished American composer

Isamu Noguchi : artist, sculptor, craftsman

Award-winning authors Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan tell the story behind the scenes of the collaboration that created APPALACHIAN SPRING
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published August 3rd 2010 by Flash Point
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  947 ratings  ·  245 reviews

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This is about the making of the famous career making ballet ‘Appalachian Spring’ by Martha Graham and music my Aaron Copland, but his career was already made. It premiered in 1944. I do like Martha Graham. This was a nice story for older audiences who are into the creative process and life. It does a good job of telling the frustrations of bringing something new to life and having to do it over and over to get it correct. The artwork in the book is great at conveying motion and dancers.

This is a
Lisa Vegan
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: dancers & dance appreciators; art & music appreciators; for showing collaborative work
I enjoyed this book so much more than I’d expected.

For one thing, the illustrations are glorious! Almost every picture is like a painting I was pleased to view. The way dance and movement are shown was lovely, as are the settings and all the people.

The book has one of the best end notes I’ve ever read, appropriately titled Curtain Call. Mini but very informative biographies are given of Martha Graham, Aaron Copland, and Isamu Noguchi; these were the three people who collaborated on the ballet Ap
Jun 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Kristin
I never thought a book about a ballet could work, but it did. The collaboration process between choreographer, composer, and artist was described. The story and dance movements and music were described. The illustrations are expressive and graceful.

I fell in love with the music to Appalachian Spring when I was in high school, so it was exciting for me to read about the dance that goes with it. I hope I can see it some day!

Thanks to my long-suffering four-year-old son for sitting through this one
Sep 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Young Ballet, Music and Art Lovers
Authors Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, and illustrator Brian Floca have collaborated on this wonderful picture-book tribute to another artistic collaboration, one which brought together the story idea and choreography of Martha Graham, the musical composition of Aaron Copland, and the set design of Isamu Noguchi, to produce the wonderful American ballet, Appalachian Spring. With a simple, but effective narrative, and gorgeously expressive illustrations, Ballet for Martha really communicates th ...more
An interesting cultural biography. I love reading children’s books like this aloud to the family to expand our understanding of the world and historical arts.
Aug 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Collaboration. True life stories of collaboration told in a picture book format. It’s a challenge that I give myself: Name such stories off the top of your head. If you’re a children’s librarian then surely you can think of one or two, yes? So I start to think about it. Let’s see . . . well, there was Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride, but that was more a story about two strangers meeting nicely than a tale of collaboration (the same could be said for When Harriet Met Sojourner). It shouldn’t be ...more
Sara Hannon
1. Informational

2. This book tells the story of how conductor Aaron Copland, dancer Martha Graham, and artist Isamu Nogucho collaborated to create one of the most enduring and beautiful ballets ever preformed.

3. This book does a very nice job of showing the process behind the creation of Appalachian Spring. The best aspect of the book is that it explains how this collaboration worked. For example they talk about how "Aaron's music suggests the movement, fires the dancers' imaginations, dares th
Robert Davis
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
I honestly had never heard of the modern American ballet "Appalachian Spring", let alone have seen it performed. So, this was all new to me. I am a big fan of Isamu Noguchi, however, and I learned something new about his collaborating with Martha Graham in the production of what would become "an American masterpiece." ...more
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-lit
There are many books that involve learning skills like cooking and writing and building. Ballet for Martha puts perfect and understandable words to the art of creativity and collaboration. The hard work, frustration, trials, errors and friendship involved in taking the inspiration/idea and making it a polished finished product. The book also gives a brief summary of each artist's life story in the back, which many children would find interesting and inspirational.
This book would appeal to girl
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This one was a Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal honor book for 2011, and it was nominated for other awards, so I expected to like it more than I did. Actually, I give this 3 1/2 stars. It was interesting, as I knew little about Martha Graham and still less about "Appalachian Spring." Brian Floca did a creditable job of illustrating the ballet so that the reader gets of sense of how it moved. Still, there's nothing like seeing it live, and I'd love to see a live performance of it. I also ...more
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This picture book about the creative collaboration that led to the ballet "Appalachian Spring" is simply lovely. I love that this account, too, is a collaboration -- two authors, one illustrator -- showing that creative minds working together make beautiful, beautiful things. The illustrations capture energy and movement in a way that's truly stunning. ...more
Lauren Brant
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Vivid watercolors dance across the pages of Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring as the words capture the imagination, taking you back to the now famous dance, first performed in 1944. Winner of the Robert F. Sibert Honor, the story follows the thoughts and dreams of Martha Graham, famed ballerina, as she begins the process of creating a story through movement. Through interviews with the artistic directors of the Martha Graham Dance Company, members of the company, musical directors, co ...more
Amy Forrester
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This illustrated non-fiction book tells the story of the creation of Appalachian Spring, one of the most well-known American modern dance ballets, which was a collaboration between dancer/choreographer Martha Graham, composer Aaron Copland, and artist/scenic designer Isamu Noguchi. The book follows the ballet from a story developed by Graham through the rehearsal process to the opening night performance on October 30, 1944. “But the life of Appalachian Spring goes on after the great night / to b ...more
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This beautiful book tells the story of how Aaron Copland's iconic piece, "Appalachian Spring," was created. It descrbies the collaborative efforts of composer Aaron Copland, chereographer Martha Graham and set designer Isamu Noguchi to create a modern ballet that tells the legend of American living--a pioneer traveling westward toward the frontier to start a new life. Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring describes the artistic process that each creator went through as well as how the t ...more
Crystal Bandel
Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca, published 2010.


Picture book.

Grades 2-6.

Found via School Library Journal, reviewed by Cheri Dobbs.

Ballet for Martha tells the story of the creation of "Appalachian Spring," a famous ballet about the American experience. "Appalachian Spring" was the result of collaboration between the choreographer Martha Graham, the composer Aaron Copeland, and the set designer Isamu Noguchi, an
Ballet for Martha describes the creation of the ballet “Appalachian Spring.” It explains how Martha Graham and others worked together to create the dance as well as what the ballet means. Overall, it is an account of the collaboration that led to “Appalachian Spring.”
The information in the book is accurate, and there are many sources cited at the end of the story, showing the reader exactly where the information came from. The information is organized and the story is easy to follow. The illus
Katherine Austin
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reading-4050
1) Book summary, in your own words (3 pts)
-Through this picture book students learn about respected choreographer, Martha Graham, and the creation of her most famous performance, Appalachian Spring. This book gives children an insight on all the work that goes into ballet and other performances. It can help give students a greater understanding or appreciation of the arts and the all the people who help create them.
2) Grade level, interest level, lexile (1 pt)
-2nd grade
3) Appropriate classroom u
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
"Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring" will appeal to girls who like ballet and dance. It would also be an excellent resource in a music classroom that is studying Aaron Copeland's "Appalachian Spring" music. This book explains how one of the most famous American musical compositions of the 1940s was created, through Martha Graham's vision. The illustrations capture the struggles Graham and Copeland had in finding the right story and music to create a new kind of ballet. It also demonstr ...more
Sara Mostek
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Audience: Grades 2-6 (girls especially)
Appeal: Powerful story of an American classic, great illustrations
Awards: Nominee of Sibert Informational Book Award, Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book, NCTE Orbis Picture Award, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Jun 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Done with breathtaking clarity, a masterpiece of explication of creative process in dance, music, and design, in a way that will capture young readers and hold them. Brilliant.
Edward Sullivan
Magnificent! The double-page spread with Aaron Copeland sitting at his piano and the score in the background is a masterpiece!!
Spare text conveys the story so well. Well integrated quotes, stunning illustrations.
Cara Dore
Title: Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring
Author: Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
Illustrator: Brian Floca
Genre: Orbitus Award

Theme(s): Movement, Music, Performance

Opening line/sentence: Sometimes art is made by one artist, working alone, but sometimes it is the result of artists working together—collaborating—to forge something new.

Brief Book Summary: Ballet for Martha tells the story of how Martha Graham, Aaron Copland, Isamu Noguchi crafted the ballet, Appalachian Spring. It tells
Hailey Lavender
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: is-330-exam-2
As someone who had never even heard of the ballet "Appalachian Spring," I definitely enjoyed this book. Readers do not have to come into this with any prior knowledge of the ballet, which can make it enjoyable for any reader. The book is recommended for ages 6-10, but I think children closer to age 10 might enjoy this story more. It is a story about how the ballet was formed, and it may satisfy older children who have an interest in ballets rather than just any audience. The watercolor used thro ...more
Hannah Eudy
Oct 27, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a true story about a woman who was a successful choreographer and dancer. I think this genre is a good one for kids because it uses pictures, but also is true. The story often has incentive for people to keep reading, as it does not reflect a textbook. I think what I found was the best part of this story was the illustrations. I would use this book with kids because it is truthful, but relays the truth in a more interesting way which intrigues kids, more so than a history textbook. I ca
Becky B
A picture book history of the making of Appalachian Spring and how Martha Graham, Aaron Copeland, and Isamu Noguchi worked together to create the dance, music, and set. The book also walks readers through the basic parts of the performance.

Make sure you read this where you can easily listen to some of the music too! A great read for music history or arts appreciation. Floca's illustrations are fantastic as always and manage to convey some of the movement of the dance. I like the way it shows how
Elizabeth Sharer
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-book
This story follows the quest of Martha Graham as she sets out to produce her most famous ballet, the Appalachian Spring. This dance represents a new life in America. Martha wrote the story, with it taking place in Pennsylvania during the spring as a young man and woman get married. It follows the people involved with the creation of the play and all the work that went into it. Opening night ended up being successful, and even today it is still found on stages nation-wide. The illustrations are g ...more
Ms. B
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Pleasant surprise - I am not into ballet and the cover does nothing for me. I had no idea who Martha was; I thought she might be someone who went to the Appalachian Mountains to teach young women ballet.
This is a biography of three amazing artists: Martha Graham; a dancer and choreographer, Aaron Copland; a classical musician and American composer, and Isamu Noguchi; an artist, sculptor and set designer. Together they created Applalachian Spring, an amazing piece of theatrical dance.
Kaethe Douglas
Props for just tackling the subject. Writing about music and dance is hard, but writing well is rare. But the text and art here work together to show the collaborative process involved in making a new dance. Brilliant.

Library copy
Debbie Hoskins
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this because of the reviews it was getting. It was a great introduction. I watched some of the ballet on the computer.
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