Firebird

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Firebird Book Poster Image
Soaring, rhythmic story for dancers with big dreams.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Although not dedicated to dance instruction or dance history, Firebird does explore the emotional commitment to becoming a dancer.

Positive Messages

Throughout the book, the main character learns about self-confidence, perseverance, and dedication. She also learns that every star started at the beginning, just like her.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both Misty Copeland and the book's main character serve as positive role models, displaying what it takes to pursue a career in dance. In overcoming self-doubt and talking through their feelings together, they act as a model for an effective mentor-mentee relationship and an inspiration for other dancers.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Firebird is the dream-like story of a young girl inspired and mentored by a professional ballet dancer. Author Misty Copeland -- only the second African-American soloist in the history of the American Ballet Theatre -- encourages the girl in the story to dream big and work hard, just as she did. Beautifully illustrated by Caldecott honoree Christopher Myers, Firebird captures the thrill and movement of dance and could provoke discussion about diversity in dance genres. It won the 2015 Coretta Scott King Book Award for Illustrator. 

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What's the story?

What do you do when you dream a dream almost too big for yourself? What can you do when you want to soar like the Firebird you see on TV, when you are still so very small? Those are the questions a new ballerina finds herself asking as she longs to be like Misty Copeland, soloist for the American Ballet Theatre. Just when the young dancer is ready to give up, her idol steps in to share her journey as they dance through self-discovery together.

Is it any good?

Beautiful, charming, and rhythmic, Misty Copeland's FIREBIRD soars as a story of self-discovery, determination, shared passion, and mentorship. Copeland's prose and dialogue with a young dancer are emotionally moving and adeptly deal with the fears, misgivings, and concerns many dancers struggle with when they first begin. Copeland acts as mentor and motivator, instilling confidence in the young dancer.

The books is wonderfully illustrated by Christopher Myers, who combines color and texture to create stunning design and movement. Firebird will have young dancers leaping for the stars and understanding both the hard work and possibilities involved.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of diversity. Why is it important for children to see people who look like them in media?

  • Who do you look up to as a role model, and how does that person help you believe in yourself?

  • What do you think of the way dance is portrayed in the media? What are some stereotypes about ballerinas? Hip-hop dancers? Dancers in general?

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