Charlotte and the ­Nutcracker: The True Story of a Girl Who Made Ballet History

Random. Dec. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593374900.
K-Gr 3–A true story about the first Black dancer to be cast as Marie in the New York City Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. The author, was 11 when she made history in 2019 for her role. In this compelling narrative, Charlotte Nebres starts taking ballet classes when she is two. Years later, she sees a ballerina’s performance that changes her life. “Charlotte perches on her velvety chair. There’s the ballerina everyone is talking about! Her brown skin glows bright in the stage lamps. The ballerina looks like family.” Nebres, who is of Trinidadian and Filipino descent, imagines herself up on stage. With hard work and the support of her family, she reaches her dream. The girl is excited when she lands the role, but surprised, too. “They say it’s the first time the New York City Ballet will have a Black girl playing Marie. Huh, she thinks, that seems a little late.” This story has broad appeal and celebrates the author’s diverse heritage. For example, one page shows and describes the dancer and her grandma making a Christmas Eve treat with banana leaves, dough, and spicy meat. Illustrations do well in capturing the mood of this title. At the end, Nebres addresses readers: “Do you incorporate your heritage in your traditions? However you celebrate, I am wishing you a very happy holiday!”
VERDICT This true inspirational story is a must-have for library collections. Highly recommended for all.

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