Gloria’s Promise

Random House Studio. (American Ballet Theatre). Mar. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593181003.
Gr 1-5–Gloria is a balletomane of the first order. She lives, eats, breathes, and moves through life as a ballerina, a child with brown skin and dark curly hair in the regulation bun who, even bundled into blizzard-proof clothes, leaps down the front stoop in her hurry to get to the audition for a summer program at the American Ballet Theatre. She and her mother ride the crowded subway to the correct address, where Gloria sees dozens of girls who, despite many colors of skin, textures of hair, and facial expressions, are as willowy, strong, disciplined, and as determined as she is to make the cut. Temporarily distracted by other activities in the classrooms, Gloria is fully onboard when it’s her turn to audition. But she falls. The story is so well written that the suspense over the next few spreads as Gloria awaits her fate is palpable. The sibling creators of this picture book are so in step emotionally with their protagonist that even the endpapers are peppered with glorious painted spotlights of Gloria turned out in perfect positions, dancing in the rain, practicing steps while standing over a book—no moment is wasted in conveying her commitment. And that’s why the book works so beautifully. This child does not simply wish to dance, but has put in the hours and has proven her discipline and attitude. The storytelling is tight, brisk, and still lyrical. The scenes are thrilling, crowded with tiny hopeful dancers in their leotards and ballet slippers, or older dancers in toe shoes.
VERDICT A celebration of dance, dreams, and hard work, from the inside out, and a book that delivers on its promise.

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