May 27, 2016

Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso

Alicia Alonso: Prima Ballerina
by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
illustrated by Raúl Colón

The table of contents, elegantly written in curly script, is long and intimidating. Thankfully, the titles refer to poems, not chapters! Written in free verse, the poems trace Alonso's career from juvenile flamenco dancer to prima ballerina. 

Hers is a life filled with drama - a disapproving father who likens ballerinas to prostitutes, marriage at fifteen and a baby before the wedding, visual impairment, political turmoil in Cuba, and exile from the United States. Detailed endnotes plus glossary put everything in context. 

While the author does a good job in describing the sacrifices needed to pursue a passion, her poems are not as beautiful as the suitably ethereal drawings, which often outshine the words.

For ages 12 and up.

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