These descriptors provide a mere glimpse into the beauty of Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova, by author Laurel Snyder and illustrator Julie Morstad.
In this biographical picture book, they present a stunning portrait of Anna, from her youth growing up in poverty, to her first encounter with the art of ballet, through her career as a prima ballerina.
Her story is noteworthy, as she overcomes obstacles such as being smaller and frailer than most other dances and still persevered. Furthermore, she was an artist who danced not for acclaim or recognition, but purely for the sake of dance; to create beauty. And she created beauty in order to give it away- to bring beauty to the whole world: “Somewhere, there are people who haven’t heard the music… The world is a hungry place, and Anna will feed it beauty.”
However, not only is the story itself beautiful, but also the manner in which it is told. Through rich and lyrical text, Snyder tells this tale with all the grace and loveliness fitting for a narrative about a ballerina. Likewise, Morstad’s illustrations portray the simple, artful elegance of Anna’s dancing and her story. Together, the two elements create an enduring story that lends itself magnificently to use in the classroom and home alike. The high-level text might be a little challenging for young readers to access on their own, but with scaffolding provided by a teacher or parent it can be used with a variety of ages. Between the complex text and resonant pictures, this book is perfect for engaging children in making inferences and having meaningful dialogue that enriches their experience with literature.