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Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina, by Michaela DePrince with her mother, Elaine dePrince, is a frank and honest look at Michaela's life as a orphan in Sierra Leone, including the malnutrition, abuses, and atrocities she witnessed and suffered. There are descriptions of death, including the horrific murder of a pregnant teacher and her newborn. There's also discussion of Michaela's life in America, including her adjustment as an international adoptee, the death of her brother from AIDS, and her experience of racism in the dance world. Parents should be prepared to discuss child abuse, war horrors, interracial families, and cultural views of ballet.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Born Mabinty Bangura, Michaela became known as the "devil's child" because of her skin condition known as vitiligo. She was a loved and cherished child until rebels killed her father and her mother died of starvation. Shunted to an orphanage, Orphan #27 has little happiness to cling to as war rages and abuse dogs her, until she finds an old magazine with the photo of a beautiful ballerina on the cover. From that moment, she sets out to find the happiness she believes is onstage in a pair of pointe shoes.
Is it any good?
Horrifying, sad, soaring, and hopeful, this autobiography captures the imagination of the reader from the first few pages. There are times when little Mabinty's abuse is too much too bear, but her hope helps readers turn to the next page. After suffering through loss, illness, neglect, and outright contempt, Mabinty becomes Michaela and begins a journey that seems like a fairy tale but in reality is a story of the strength of the human spirit and the hope that comes with finding loving support and a passion for your calling.
Parents and kids will love the novel for its dynamic pacing and triumphant message. It's heavy on ballet jargon, which may be difficult for readers unfamiliar with dance to understand, but it shouldn't get in the way of most readers' enjoyment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about following your passion. How did Michaela's dedication to ballet lead her to make significant sacrifices to pursue her dreams?
What's "different" about each one of us? How do you overcome insecurities about your physical appearance?
How important is it to have a positive body image in dance -- and in life?
- Author: Michaela DePrince
- Genre: Autobiography
- Topics: Arts and Dance, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: October 14, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 256
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.