Anna Pavlova

Frances Lincoln. (Little People, Big Dreams). Nov. 2022. 32p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780711271128.
PreS-K–In the crisp graphics for which Downing is now known, the life of prima ballerina Anna Pavlova unfolds in a few board book pages and yet, it’s enough. The format seems to ingest her life—from the tiny, two-pound newborn to the towering talent that enthralled millions—and then send it out to readers in dense bites rich with information: “Anna lived in a tiny house on the outskirts of the city. Her father died while she was still small, and her mother worked from dawn to dusk to bring food to the table—and a present for her daughter every now and then.” The illustrations add further detail in the samovar, a table of tea things, intricate embroidery on the clothing of mother and child, a well-tended and immaculately dressed Anna, and a gigantic Easter egg adorned in traditional motif. This is but one spread. There is so much to see, replicating what happens onstage at the ballet, Pavlova’s effect on her legions of fans, on dance itself, and her later years. Children will pore over the pages, eagerly taking in the exaggerated shapes, bright colors, and details of a famous person’s life.
VERDICT Why not? Like the meringue she inspired, this Pavlova is rich, light, airy, filling, ethereal.

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