San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, LLC, 2015

Put this one at the top of your wish list, because it is a beauty that is sure to please aspiring dancers everywhere! The text is spare and packed with meaning, as if it were poetry; and Morestand’s illustrations are delicate and true to the ballet aesthetic.

Anna is a girl of modest means growing up in Czarist Russia, when her mother takes her to the ballet. Anna instantly falls in love with the artform and yearns to go to ballet school. On her second try, she is accepted to the Imperial Ballet School, and the rest, as they say, is history.  When she begins training, her natural talent is evident, as is her passionate work ethic.  Anna Pavlova, of course, goes on to become a world famous prima ballerina, traveling extensively in her determination to bring ballet to the whole world.

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova, although biographical, is not meant to relay every fact of the dancer’s life.  Rather, it perfectly conveys her brilliant artistry and spirit. Even her last illness and death are handled beautifully here, as if on the stage. It should be included in any picture book collection.

Dewey: 792.802                                                                  Interest Level: K-3

Awards and Reviews: Hornbook Magazine; Kirkus Reviews; Publishers Weekly; School Library Journal starred.

Older readers might like: Alvin Ailey by Andrea Davis Pinkney (illus. J. Brian Pinkney).

YA readers might like: Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland.

Fiction pairing: Anglelina Ballerina by Katharine Holabird (illus. Helen Craig).

On the Web: 

Anna Pavlova performing The Dying Swan at