The Bookworm Files

A Dance Like Starlight by Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper


Mama says that wishing on a star is a waste of time. Hoping is what you’ve got to do, and hoping is hard work. For the unnamed narrator of the story, hoping seems fruitless. It’s the 1950s in Harlem, and little African American girls just don’t grow up to be prima ballerinas.

But all that hoping catches the eye of the Ballet Master at the ballet school where Mama works, sewing and cleaning. She still can’t dance on stage with the white girls, but at least she can dance in classes. And then Janet Collins, the first African American prima ballerina, comes to town for a stunning performance, and all of the little dancer’s hopes suddenly seem within reach.

Beautifully illustrated and poignantly told, A Dance Like Starlight will be cherished by aspiring ballerinas or any child who has ever had a seemingly impossible dream. An author’s note gives background information on Janet Collins, who was the first African American ballerina to perform under contract with the Metropolitan Opera. The final two lines, “No need to waste my wishes. I’ve got dreams coming true,” are breathtaking.

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This entry was posted on February 9, 2014 by in 5-8.
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