Day, Christine. The Sea in Winter. Heartdrum, 2021. 978-0-062-87204-3. $16.99. Grades 3-7.
Seventh grader Maisie isn’t having a great day just before her school’s midwinter break. She’s tardy to homeroom, and she earned a 70 on her most recent math test. A break from school and a family trip back home will be good “heart medicine.” Maisie could use a distraction from eating lunch alone and getting text updates from her ballet friends who she no sees. Maisie isn’t sure how to respond, so she usually doesn’t. Things start to look up when her physical therapist suggests that Maisie’s recovery from a torn ACL and surgery might be moving faster than initially anticipated. This news gives Maisie hope; she’s missed ballet and her friends so much, and she might even be able to make a few spring auditions if she keeps progressing. With this news (and a green light for hiking) Maisie’s family heads to the Olympic Peninsula to explore some areas that are important to their Native family. Maisie’s stormy emotions seem to get the best of her at times, and she’s not sure why she says some of the things she does. When Maisie’s frustration reaches a peak, she’ll have to decide who she wants to be, even if that doesn’t include ballet.
THOUGHTS: Upper elementary and middle school students will adore Maisie and recognize the roller coaster of emotions she experiences. Maisie’s little brother provides comic relief to some of her emotional “funks,” and her parents are extremely supportive. #OwnVoices author Day addresses negative self talk and depression in an age appropriate way that will resonate with students. Highly recommended.
Realistic Fiction Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD
Copeland, Misty. Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina. New York: Touchstone, 2014. 978-1-476737-980. 288 p. $24.99 Gr. 9-12.
“This is for the little brown girls.” Misty Copeland has worked her way from a “shuffled” sort of childhood to ballet stardom and, through her writing and affiliation with Under Armor, Prince, and more is nearly a household name. All this from a young woman who first took a ballet class at 13 (far beyond the usual 3 and 4-year-old beginning age) and who didn’t have the right “build” or the right skin color for ballet. What did she have? A seemingly innate ability to know and perform the moves, and soon, a love of ballet which fueled her drive to learn and to be the best. As evidenced in her memoir, she also has writing ability that pulls the reader in, and a kind, forgiving, no-grudges-held attitude. “This is for the little brown girls.” It is a line she repeats and a role she takes seriously. She sees herself as helping to open the body- and race-specific world of ballet to boys and girls of various sizes and races. This is an uplifting and inspiring biography of a woman to admire not only for her ballet accomplishments, but also for her strong, open-to-life character. This book fills a gaping need for biographies of contemporary dancers, and will be much in demand by young dancers in your school. Highly recommended. 792.8 Ballet; Memoir Melissa Scott, Shenango High School