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To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel

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The Sibert Honor–winning graphic memoir about the dreams and realities of becoming a ballerina. Ballerinas are young when they first dream of dance. Siena was six—and her dreams kept skipping and leaping, circling and spinning, from airy runs along a beach near her home in Puerto Rico, to dance classes at the School of American Ballet, to her debut performance on stage with The Sibert Honor–winning graphic memoir about the dreams and realities of becoming a ballerina. Ballerinas are young when they first dream of dance. Siena was six—and her dreams kept skipping and leaping, circling and spinning, from airy runs along a beach near her home in Puerto Rico, to dance classes at the School of American Ballet, to her debut performance on stage with the New York City Ballet while working with ballet legend George Balanchine. Part family history, part backstage drama, this beautifully updated graphic memoir—which features a refreshed design and a brand-new scrapbook of Siena’s mementoes—is an original, firsthand look a young dancer’s beginnings.


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The Sibert Honor–winning graphic memoir about the dreams and realities of becoming a ballerina. Ballerinas are young when they first dream of dance. Siena was six—and her dreams kept skipping and leaping, circling and spinning, from airy runs along a beach near her home in Puerto Rico, to dance classes at the School of American Ballet, to her debut performance on stage with The Sibert Honor–winning graphic memoir about the dreams and realities of becoming a ballerina. Ballerinas are young when they first dream of dance. Siena was six—and her dreams kept skipping and leaping, circling and spinning, from airy runs along a beach near her home in Puerto Rico, to dance classes at the School of American Ballet, to her debut performance on stage with the New York City Ballet while working with ballet legend George Balanchine. Part family history, part backstage drama, this beautifully updated graphic memoir—which features a refreshed design and a brand-new scrapbook of Siena’s mementoes—is an original, firsthand look a young dancer’s beginnings.

30 review for To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Calista

    My last book of 2019. Happy New Year all! This is a little book about the life of a dancer and it seems to be biographical. This girl is accepted to ABT in NYC and gets to dance with all the Russian teachers. This is your typical story about the world of dance and what is required. I felt the ending was a little weird. There really wasn't much ending at all. She goes off to college and then starts dancing again. It was sort of weird. The story is told in small chapters. I appreciated it, but I thi My last book of 2019. Happy New Year all! This is a little book about the life of a dancer and it seems to be biographical. This girl is accepted to ABT in NYC and gets to dance with all the Russian teachers. This is your typical story about the world of dance and what is required. I felt the ending was a little weird. There really wasn't much ending at all. She goes off to college and then starts dancing again. It was sort of weird. The story is told in small chapters. I appreciated it, but I think there are better stories out there. Still, I love the world of dance and so it was still a good read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Malbadeen

    Book Review: I loved the illustrations. Loved the color, Loved the ribbons that ran through it. Loved it! The writing...mmm, it was a bit disjointed and clunky but over all it worked. A bunch of other ramblings... When I was a kid we were poor. Not Frank McCourt poor, not we might have to eat the dog poor. but still, poor. poor like, no insurance poor, and going to McDonalds was a MAJOR TREAT poor, wearing socks for gloves in the winter poor, and babysiting the siblings at the berry field that my mo Book Review: I loved the illustrations. Loved the color, Loved the ribbons that ran through it. Loved it! The writing...mmm, it was a bit disjointed and clunky but over all it worked. A bunch of other ramblings... When I was a kid we were poor. Not Frank McCourt poor, not we might have to eat the dog poor. but still, poor. poor like, no insurance poor, and going to McDonalds was a MAJOR TREAT poor, wearing socks for gloves in the winter poor, and babysiting the siblings at the berry field that my mom managed poor. Poor enough to be nostalgic about poverty, that kind of poor. Being that kind of poor meant owning your very own something/anything was a big deal and being 1 girl in house with 3 brothers (and a sister to follow much later - hi megan!) meant girl things were even more of a big deal! And I owned my VERY OWN, VERY GIRLY book of ballet dancing. It was a how-to with a pink cover and black and white photos of a girl, appearing to be suspended in space doing 1st position, 2nd position, etc. Somehow I had also obtained a leotard which I dubtifully put on and stood at the back of my coach (ballet bar), and studied the floating girl as I attempted to duplicate her suspended grace. Then my house burned down and the book went with it. But this book reminds of that time and that makes me happy. prologue: my dad stopped being a journalist and my mom started getting paid for her art work and not only did we get actual gloves and new school clothes ocassionaly, we got MOON BOOTS!!!woo-hoo and most importantly, while books always remained somewhat sacred they were not quite as hard to come by. yay for childhood memories of books! Then my dad stopped being a journalist

  3. 4 out of 5

    (NS) Lauren

    Grade/Interest Level: 3-6 Dancers are young when they first dream of dance. Siena was six -- and her dreams kept skipping and leaping, circling and spinning, from airy runs along a beach near her home in Puerto Rico, to dance class in Boston, to her debut performance on stage with the New York City Ballet. To Dance tells and shows the fullness of her dreams and her rhapsodic life they led to. Part family history, part backstage drama, here is an original, firsthand book about a young dancer's begi Grade/Interest Level: 3-6 Dancers are young when they first dream of dance. Siena was six -- and her dreams kept skipping and leaping, circling and spinning, from airy runs along a beach near her home in Puerto Rico, to dance class in Boston, to her debut performance on stage with the New York City Ballet. To Dance tells and shows the fullness of her dreams and her rhapsodic life they led to. Part family history, part backstage drama, here is an original, firsthand book about a young dancer's beginnings -- and beyond. This dancer's autobiography, told in graphic novel format, offers readers a unique way to journey alongside on her quest to become a ballerina. Text is accessible to struggling readers, who will also be supported by the cues embedded within the illustrations. The illustrations are organized in a visually appealing way, and do not impede the reader's ability to follow the story line. I would use this with students as an example of the graphic novel genre. I might have students next create a graphic novel telling the story of a meaningful event from their own lives.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emm C²

    To Dance is the story of Siena Cherson Siegel's journey from her desire to be a ballerina at age six to her debut performance with the New York City Ballet as a young adult. Siegel was faced with being unable to compete several times, due to being flat-footed, personal issues or injuries, yet prevailed with optimism. It's an uplifting story told in whimsical watercolours by Mark Siegel. While To Dance is light-hearted, Siegel doesn't spare the brutal honesty of ballet, and how extraordinarily dif To Dance is the story of Siena Cherson Siegel's journey from her desire to be a ballerina at age six to her debut performance with the New York City Ballet as a young adult. Siegel was faced with being unable to compete several times, due to being flat-footed, personal issues or injuries, yet prevailed with optimism. It's an uplifting story told in whimsical watercolours by Mark Siegel. While To Dance is light-hearted, Siegel doesn't spare the brutal honesty of ballet, and how extraordinarily difficult it can be to break into its ranks at all, much less achieve fame. The art of ballet and its behind-the-scenes has for some reason, always interested me more than actual ballets have. It is definitely a demanding profession, asking so much of you, physically and mentally, that it takes an insane amount of determination to succeed in. Thus, I have a lot of respect for ballerinas. I've heard this graphic novel described as "symphonic", and I think that fits quite well, the art flowing as smoothly as a lifeline.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Decided to pick this book up for my own writing inspiration/research and it is now one of my favorite graphic novels. It tells the real-life story of a young Puerto Rican girl who moves to the United States with her family and pursues her dream of becoming a professional ballerina in New York City. Told through beautiful, vivid illustrations, it is a book about hope, passion and art. Siena is fierce and believes in herself and her dreams. She is the perfect role model for any child, whether they Decided to pick this book up for my own writing inspiration/research and it is now one of my favorite graphic novels. It tells the real-life story of a young Puerto Rican girl who moves to the United States with her family and pursues her dream of becoming a professional ballerina in New York City. Told through beautiful, vivid illustrations, it is a book about hope, passion and art. Siena is fierce and believes in herself and her dreams. She is the perfect role model for any child, whether they hope to dance or not. I know she inspired me. "We dance because it fills a space in us." My thoughts exactly.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gaby

    The cover enticed me to pick this graphic novel up, and that's probably the only thing I liked about it. The story was lacking and the illustrations were simply ok. More of my thoughts on this book here: http://youtu.be/qJD815TTY84?a The cover enticed me to pick this graphic novel up, and that's probably the only thing I liked about it. The story was lacking and the illustrations were simply ok. More of my thoughts on this book here: http://youtu.be/qJD815TTY84?a

  7. 5 out of 5

    Heather Gunnell

    I always love reading about ballet. The passion for dance always reminds me of my childhood. My own experience was not as intense as Siena's, but the love for all types of dance was there.

  8. 4 out of 5

    ⚡️HEROny⚡️

    The story was heart-warming and the art was wonderful.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amelia

    I loved this book I thought it was awesome because it got better and better as I read on so I loved it!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Page

    A young ballerina's simple story of how her passion for dance changed her life. You follow her remarkable training up until her eighteenth year. An excellent choice for children especially.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Different Is Beautiful

    I would have loved this when I was little because I had a fascination with ballet dancing and finger skating I still do. Also this was a recommendation from Goodreads so way ago Goodreads

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Really enjoyed this one. It reminded me of all the dance books I used to read as a child and it even mentioned my favorite, A Very Young Dancer.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    this is review i gave to my Sibert Award class "to dance" is a graphic autobiography by Siena Cherson Siegel and her artist husband Mark Siegel which was awarded a Sibert Honor in 2007. Ms. Siegel starts her book as a six year old in Puerto Rico and ends the main story as sixteen year old member of the American Ballet Theatre watching Suzanne Farrell's dance/tribute/ode for George Balanchine at the first performance after his death. There are a couple of follow up pages showing Siena at college, this is review i gave to my Sibert Award class "to dance" is a graphic autobiography by Siena Cherson Siegel and her artist husband Mark Siegel which was awarded a Sibert Honor in 2007. Ms. Siegel starts her book as a six year old in Puerto Rico and ends the main story as sixteen year old member of the American Ballet Theatre watching Suzanne Farrell's dance/tribute/ode for George Balanchine at the first performance after his death. There are a couple of follow up pages showing Siena at college, having stopped dancing because of a severe ankle injury and finally returning to ballet. Siena shows the struggle being a very young dancer and credits Jill Krementz' book for inspiring her. We see Siena reading it by flashlight as a ten year old during the New York City Blackout. Years ago i read Suzanne Farrell's autobiography, and reading about dance is as one dimensional as reading about music, Mark Siegel's art adds much to his wife's text. It is one thing to read about the Bolshoi production of Swan Lake that Siena attended, Mark shows us the magic of the dying swan as Siena saw it. Siena writes of watching ballets from behind a curtain while across the stage behind another curtain Mr. B (Balanchine) watches the performers. We see her and a couple other girls swoon over Baryshnikov as he rides an elevator with them. And we read and see the amount of work Siena must do, from a couple hours a day to six days a week to attending a special school so she can practice more. We see her use dance as an escape from her parents fighting and eventual divorce, never stated but implied is the amount of money and sacrifice this passion costs. And there is the page showing Farrell dance Symphony in C in honor to Balanchine, it got me crying. An outstanding book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    To Dance, is a memoir by Siena Cherson Siegel with illustrations by her husband, Mark Siegel. The story is about her life from the time she was a little girl with a dream of dancing through her teen years. When Siena was six her doctor told her mother that she was “flat-footed,” and that she would never be able to dance. Her family moved around a lot, but her mother kept signing her up for dance classes. She worked so hard and was accepted into the School of American Ballet (SAB). She thrived i To Dance, is a memoir by Siena Cherson Siegel with illustrations by her husband, Mark Siegel. The story is about her life from the time she was a little girl with a dream of dancing through her teen years. When Siena was six her doctor told her mother that she was “flat-footed,” and that she would never be able to dance. Her family moved around a lot, but her mother kept signing her up for dance classes. She worked so hard and was accepted into the School of American Ballet (SAB). She thrived in this setting, and was chosen to perform in many productions. At the same time her parents went through a bitter divorce. Having dance to retreat to helped her through difficult times. She ended up going to college where she did not pursue a dancing career because of injuries, and because she felt she needed to pursue other interests. In the end, however, she said that she went back to the barre because dancing was still part of her. I enjoyed reading this book because of the story, but I loved the pictures as well. The detail and facial expressions brought the words to life. Siena’s eyes were kind and expressive. The way that Mark Siegel painted the pictures of Siena showed her spark, and love of dance. I think that any intermediate or middle school aged child with a love of dance would enjoy this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Another very well-done graphic novel memoir that I'd recommend to young girls up through adults. Siena's story will ring true with anyone who has had a dream and pursued it, although it does not sugar-coat how hard you have to work as a dancer and the pains and risks involved. Mark Siegel's illustrations are wonderful and flowing, and I was interested to discover that he is married to the author; that he grew up in France and is credited as a translator on the Little Vampire comics; that he also Another very well-done graphic novel memoir that I'd recommend to young girls up through adults. Siena's story will ring true with anyone who has had a dream and pursued it, although it does not sugar-coat how hard you have to work as a dancer and the pains and risks involved. Mark Siegel's illustrations are wonderful and flowing, and I was interested to discover that he is married to the author; that he grew up in France and is credited as a translator on the Little Vampire comics; that he also illustrated Long Night Moon by Cynthia Rylant; and that he is the editorial director of First Second. There is a page in "To Dance" where Siena is watching a performance from the wings, and inside the panel is what she sees, while the panel itself is the curtain that she is hiding behind. Brilliant!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tzipora

    This is the perfect graphic novel for any girl (of any age!) who has ever wanted to be a ballerina! Siena Cherson Siegel had the childhood every kid who was ever serious about ballet can only dream of. She auditions for and is accepted into the very prestigious School of American Ballet (SAB). This is the top school in the United States for young dancers and even more impressive is that Siegel was there during the last years of SAB's famous founder George Balanchine's life. This was also during This is the perfect graphic novel for any girl (of any age!) who has ever wanted to be a ballerina! Siena Cherson Siegel had the childhood every kid who was ever serious about ballet can only dream of. She auditions for and is accepted into the very prestigious School of American Ballet (SAB). This is the top school in the United States for young dancers and even more impressive is that Siegel was there during the last years of SAB's famous founder George Balanchine's life. This was also during the time that Baryshnikov was with the New York City Ballet. That's right, Siena Cherson Siegel danced for Balanchine in a ballet with Baryshnikov! So if acronyms such as SAB, NYCB, ABT, etc and names like Balanchine, Baryshnikov, Suzanne Farrell, and Gelsey Kirkland make your heart beat a little faster and your spirit dance, this is the book for you!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carolinee

    To Dance is a graphic novel which is a biography of an adolescent ballerina- Siena Cherson Siegel. The cover of the book indicates that the main protagonist dreams about becoming a dancer. The reader may follow Sienna in her struggle to become a professional ballerina. We may learn from the story what is hard work and sacrifice. The graphics perfectly convey the mood of the characters and their emotions. There is just one weakness of the novel which is connected with the arrangement of the illus To Dance is a graphic novel which is a biography of an adolescent ballerina- Siena Cherson Siegel. The cover of the book indicates that the main protagonist dreams about becoming a dancer. The reader may follow Sienna in her struggle to become a professional ballerina. We may learn from the story what is hard work and sacrifice. The graphics perfectly convey the mood of the characters and their emotions. There is just one weakness of the novel which is connected with the arrangement of the illustrations. While reading it, at times I had a feeling that it was chaotic and I did not know which picture should go first. I recommend the book to everybody because it conveys an important message about persistence in achieving aims and depicts both exciting and tough life of ballet dancers.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mary Beth

    I picked this slim gem up from our library mainly because I am a fan of the illustrator, Mark Siegel(author of the webcomic Sailor Twain . This book is a collaboration between Mr. Siegel and his wife, Siena Cherson Siegel, and it was a delight from start to finish. If anything, I wanted more stories about Ms. Siegel's experiences with the SAB and the NYCB. I picked this slim gem up from our library mainly because I am a fan of the illustrator, Mark Siegel(author of the webcomic Sailor Twain . This book is a collaboration between Mr. Siegel and his wife, Siena Cherson Siegel, and it was a delight from start to finish. If anything, I wanted more stories about Ms. Siegel's experiences with the SAB and the NYCB.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    To Dance isn't just a graphic novel about ballet dancing. It's a novel about growing up, about nostalgia for the past and how the world changed over the years (e.g. when Siena gets her Sony Walkman). It's a novel about friendship, family, and about following your dreams. Beautifully illustrated and well-written, my only complaint was that it was somewhat short. Nevertheless, To Dance is an excellent book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Agnes U

    I really enjoyed reading this book. I love the fact that the protagonist's passion for dancing never changes and it forever remains a part of her. I'm not going to give any spoilers for those who want to read it, but the story is lighthearted and actually very realistic, (despite the pink cover that I associate with sassy and girlish stories). Also, the art is remarkable, packed with details and novel (to me) techniques which add appeal to the story and the way of reading.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie

    Quick read. I liked the perspective the book takes on a ballerina's life, one that isn't commonly portrayed in children's books often. The illustrations were soft and flowy and captured movement very well. Book ended abruptly. Writing style needed a little work but overall a nice story for dancers.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marivel Rangel

    A graphic novel about a little girl that overcomes some bad times but never gives up her dream of becoming a ballerina. The illustrations are great!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    Great graphic book - I enjoyed reading this autobiography, it was an easy read. The illustrations were well done according to story line.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Adam Cherson

    I love my cameo in this book, egomaniacal narcissist that I am!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Liz Carr

    I just wish there was more!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shelby

    This book is awesome! It’s about a girl who has flat feet but her dream is to be a ballerina.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Innes

    Summary: The story begins in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where readers are introduced to the story’s protagonist, a young Puerto Rican girl with an internal passion for dance. For as long as she can remember, “Big empty spaces always made (her) dance,” and “A long hallway or a parking lot just begged for dance.” A doctor visit reveals she has flat feet. Her mother thinks some dance classes might help, and, of course, the young dance enthusiast is excited about trying out the new experience. In the beg Summary: The story begins in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where readers are introduced to the story’s protagonist, a young Puerto Rican girl with an internal passion for dance. For as long as she can remember, “Big empty spaces always made (her) dance,” and “A long hallway or a parking lot just begged for dance.” A doctor visit reveals she has flat feet. Her mother thinks some dance classes might help, and, of course, the young dance enthusiast is excited about trying out the new experience. In the beginning, she was too young for real ballet classes,so she was put in a class where they just moved to the music and did basic gymnastics. At age nine, she moves with her mother to Boston. She takes classes with Mrs. Alcalde who has a little dance studio in her basement. One day, the great Bolshol from Russian comes on tour in Boston. She goes to the performance and is absolutely moved by it, particularly by the lead ballerina’s performance at the end as the dying swan. Her and her friends can't stop taking about what they saw. After a year, the protagonist’s family moves back to Puerto Rico. She continues taking dance classes and even gets to perform in The Nutcracker. The following summer, she flies to New York to participate in the American Ballet Theatre summer program. Even on the days she feels like she “can’t hold up her legs anymore” she is developing quite a infatuation for the art of dance, One day, she sees a movie called, The Children of Theatre Street, filmed at a Russian ballet school. She sees the little girls in the movie with bare legs that are so strong and beautiful, and becomes even more inspired. When the protagonist turns 11, she travels to New York permanently with her mother after auditioning and getting accepted into the School of American Ballet, abbreviated SAB. Her daddy stays back in San Juan, and at the present time, the young girl contributes her father’s absence to work-related responsibilities. She attends regular school during the day and ballet classes after school a few days out of the week. Going beyond the big glass doors at the entrance of the studio was like entering a whole other world to the young dancer. “It didn’t even feel like New York anymore.” Mister B was the founder of SAB and brought in many Russian instructors to teach and choreograph. Everyone was practically from Russia actually, and they all spoke Russian too, which the protagonist found strange at first. For every year in the school, students had to wear a colored leotard to designate the level they were in. The protagonist starts out wearing green. “Every class started the same: at the barre,practicing the same steps every time, over and over and over again.” Soon it's time to get fitted for her first pair of point shoes, a rite of passage for any ballet dancer. Her first pointe class is quite painful, but she makes it through. Shortly after, her dad pays her a visit, and even builds her a personal ballet barre in the apartment. All of the protagonist’s practice and dedication pays off when she earns herself a role in an upcoming SAB performance, and opportunity not everyone from SAB was invited to be a part of. She’s nervous when opening night rolls around, but her excitement overpowers her anxiety. After the performance concludes, it's back to vigorous classes and barre work. Classes intensify as the years roll on. As her feet become stronger and less flat, she finds craving for every kind of dance to deepen as well. She eventually becomes a ballerina in a black leotard, the highest level at SAB. Despite her notable achievements at SAB, her home life has become far from remarkable. Her parents are going through divorce, and dance class soon becomes “the only time she could really get away from what was happening between her parents.” Fortunately, her hard work at SAB brings her relief and the studio became her refuge from the stress in the real world. She soon becomes advanced enough to begin partner work with boys. All of a sudden, she feels very grown doing partnering. At 18, she stops dancing to pursue other interests. She goes off to college with desires to learn and achieve in other ways. However, a couple years later she returns to the barre because she “still needed to dance” as “dance fills a space for her,” a void that she can’t seem to fill with anything else but dance. In the end, the young Puerto Rican with a passion for dance realizes dance is more than just something she loves, it’s part of who she is. "It’s something she needs to live, to feel complete." Furthermore, even when she attempted to remove dancing from her life, it turned out that was an impossible feat, because she didn’t just dance, but she was a dancer, a dancer who would forever see big spaces as an invitation to dance. Response: I can honestly say I don't think I’ve ever related to a fictional character more closely than I related to this book’s main character. As I turned each page, I felt as though I was turning the page in my own book of life. I related to this character in nearly every way, and with each challenge she had to overcome, and with each achievement she had to face, I understood her feelings, her pain, her anxiety, as I have lived through similar situations. Just like the young girl in the story, I can remember having a passion for dance for as long as I can remember. I started dancing at age 2, thanks to my mother who thought I would make the perfect little ballerina. The young girl in the story can also attribute the beginning of her dance career to her mother. Additionally, I understand her desire to dance with the sighting of each and every open space she encounters. I still find myself tapping down the grocery store isles and doing arabesques when I should be planting my feet on the tennis court. One of my most memorable moments from this graphic novel that seemed to mimic so many milestones and challenges in my own life was when the young girl was preparing for her first pointe class. Like the narrator said, going on pointe is like a rite of passage for dancers, and it's something all young dancers dream of being privileged to do one day. Nonetheless, just as the protagonist described, one’s first pointe class is not all glitter and butterflies, it hurts, it's discouraging, and it definitely takes some getting used to. Nonetheless, your feet get stronger and the pain grows less until you soon love every minute of it. Additionally, another aspect of this story that inevitably brought it home for me was when the protagonist was struggling to cope with her parents’ divorce. At around the same age as the main character, I too, had to deal with my parents going through a divorce. I totally understood what the character felt like when she noted how the studio soon became the only place she could escape from what was going on at home. Similarly, I can recall during this point in my life how dance was truly my savior, my stress-reliever, and my sweet escape. Through dance, I could release my bottled up emotions, express my feelings, and at the same time leave all of my homelife drama outside the studio walls, at least for a little while. As well, after I graduated high school, I originally took off a season of dance, because I felt dance was something that had encompassed my entire life, and it was time for a change, time to move on. Nonetheless, after a year away from home and away from the studio, I found myself back at the barre again, because like the girl in the story, I could not escape dance either, as it had inevitably become a part of me that I could not live without. Furthermore, this book stands as a strong graphic novel for young girls. My younger brother was always into comics growing up, but I never really desired to read any of them, because what typical girly girl is interested in reading about superheroes and such? I think this graphic novel demonstrates that girls too, can find enjoyment in reading a comic-format story, it just has to have a girl-friendly storyline. Moreover, I am sure other girls in the intended interest range for this book would find the story’s protagonist highly relatable. Perhaps not as relatable as I found her because of our similarities in family structure and dance background, but most likely in one way or another they would stumble upon a common struggle the young girl overcomes. With a relatable child protagonist, a storyline that is simple, straightforward, and child-friendly, and gentle, pastel illustrations that portray its characters with such distinct, and notable emotions that add so much more life to the pages, this book is without a doubt worthy of a 5-star rating. This book is definitely one I would recommend to a friend, especially one of my fellow dancers from my studio. Classroom Connection: Since this story is presented in graphic novel format, one possible classroom connection to expand on learning about graphic novels could be to have students work independently to create their own comic strip story using the comic strip generator on http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Comix/. To prepare for the creation of their own 4-panel comic strip, students would first have to make use of their writing skills to create a short story that they can break down into 4-comic strip panels. It would have to be a short story, but still contain the proper elements of a story, including characters, a setting, a plot, and a beginning, middle, and end. Of course, students could leave the ending in suspense by leaving their last comic panel as “to be continued” (there is this option on the comic strip generator). But, this would be up to them. I think this activity would be a great extension to expand students’ knowledge of graphic novels. Perhaps their parents read the comics in the newspaper, or they have ventured into reading the comics in the paper themselves. Regardless of how much prior exposure they’ve had to comics and graphic novels, I think this lesson would allow students to tap into their creativity while also exercising their writing skills, and reinforcing their knowledge of the elements of a story. After creating their comic strips, student could share their creations with the class. Students in the audience could give their classmates feedback on their creation, informing them of their favorite part, least favorite part, and critiquing them on their creativity and presentation skills. Text Complexity: According to scholastic.com, the intended interest level for this book is 6th-8th grade. There is no guided reading level or GLE available for this book. The lexile level is reported as 610. The inside cover of the book also recommends an age level for this graphic novel, which is stated to be ages 8-14. Based on the lexile level alone, it seems as though it would be appropriate for students to read this independently by 3rd grade. Nonetheless, just because the lexile level for this book falls into the 620-780 range for 3rd grade, it doesn’t deem this book to be automatically suitable for independent reading by that age group. First of all, this book is a graphic novel, and the comic book format of the book may be difficult for readers at this level to fully understand. On another note, there is a surplus of Russian terminology in this story, which if I did not have a dance background myself, would have struggled with even as a college student. I think due to the nature of the book’s format and the potentially troublesome foreign vocabulary, I would ultimately classify this book as more appropriate for students at the middle school level, fitting the intended interest range of 6-8. Students in middle school may still struggle with some of the Russian vocabulary, but could at least understand that it is indeed a foreign language and not just really hard to read English words, and might even be able to relate to the female protagonist’s experience in a Russian environment, as these middle school students might be studying a foreign language in school at this educational level. Furthermore, this book would be appropriate for an independent read aloud for students beginning at grade 6. However, students as young as 3rd grade would probably enjoy this story as a read aloud or parent-child reading activity. The content is appropriate for this young of an age range, but not necessary all of the vocabulary.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Yadira

    I initially chose this book because of its title, the word dance caught my attention and I had never read a graphic novel especially like this one, before. I was excited to read this book and see how different yet effective, a text like this is. The novel was easy to read and the style was interesting. I am not a fan of comic books, but novels like these can be enjoyable to read. This novel was nonfiction, and as I was reading it I definitely wanted to learn more because of the way that the litt I initially chose this book because of its title, the word dance caught my attention and I had never read a graphic novel especially like this one, before. I was excited to read this book and see how different yet effective, a text like this is. The novel was easy to read and the style was interesting. I am not a fan of comic books, but novels like these can be enjoyable to read. This novel was nonfiction, and as I was reading it I definitely wanted to learn more because of the way that the little girl's passion for dance was shown. I can see why books like these can be a good option for students who are having a hard time focusing on traditional text because of the style of graphic novels. The comic-like style is what makes a student who prefers video games and such things, over reading, to engage in the reading. For some students, books like this one can almost serve as a transition into reading traditional-text.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. "To Dance" is a graphic novel that follows a young girl named Siena as she grows into a mature dancer. After finding out she has flat feet, her mom asks the doctor if it can be reversed through dance class. Even though he mocked against it, Siena still was intrigued by the idea of dancing. Soon after, her passion magnified onto the single dancing type of ballet. As she became more and more passionate, Siena and her mom moved to New York for her to attend a more prestigious dancing school: the Sc "To Dance" is a graphic novel that follows a young girl named Siena as she grows into a mature dancer. After finding out she has flat feet, her mom asks the doctor if it can be reversed through dance class. Even though he mocked against it, Siena still was intrigued by the idea of dancing. Soon after, her passion magnified onto the single dancing type of ballet. As she became more and more passionate, Siena and her mom moved to New York for her to attend a more prestigious dancing school: the School of American Ballet. Thinking her father wasn't around often due to work, Siena was oblivious to her parents marriage problems. With the school, came hard work and many days spent at the studio after class. As her age progressed, so did the color of her leotard and the hours that she put in each week. Eventually, Siena was spending 7 days a week practicing ballet. She became so passionate about the art that her father purchased a barre to put in her bedroom and she began to study the different films, dancers, and performances of professional ballerinas. In a tragic shift of events, the owner of her studio passed away and she quit dancing as a result of an ankle injury. Her last memory was the commemoration dance performed for Mr. B. Luckily, years after, Siena found herself back in the studio dancing again as her passion for the art never truly went away. In summary, this book follows the story of a young girl finding her passion for dance, entering the professional field, suffering from injury, and eventually finding her way back. The book endures divorce, death, talent, exceptional hard work, and obstacles of pursuing passion. Overall, it was a cute story and a quick read. The photos were awesome and told the story just as well as the words. This novel would be a great way to incorporate an art/ writing lesson. For as long as I can remember, I always loved reading the comics within the morning newspaper. Most kids do, too. For that reason, I think it would be fun for students to make a comic page that represents a memoir of an event within their life. This provides a way for them to express themselves, connect with their peers, and show their teacher more about themselves. Students will use their creativity and artistic skills to use a variety of mediums to produce their best artwork. Next, they can add in key words. This can successfully be achieved by using this graphic novel as a modeling text on how to incorporate text that hits the mark without going overboard. Lastly, students can share their stories with one another and hang them on the wall to remind themselves of a successful time period in their life or of the exceptional work they accomplished during this project.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Berna

    I really enjoyed this graphic novel, the drawings and the tone of the book until the last two pages. The ending was sudden and wrapped up everything. It was as if a sequel was going to be written but the author then decided not to and finished the story. Still not a bad memoir about the joy of dancing.

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