To Dance (Special Edition) by Siena Cherson Siegel, artwork by Mark Siegel

 To Dance (Special Edition) by Siena Cherson Siegel, artwork by Mark Siegel, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019, 9781481486637

Format: Hardcover Graphic Novel

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre:  Memoir

What did you like about the book? This is a beautiful graphic memoir of the author’s childhood and teenage years as a ballet dancer. Born in Puerto Rico, the author eventually moved with her family to New York City for her dancing. Dance filled a need inside of her, and also provided a respite from some challenging situations at home. The artwork in the book is done by the author’s husband.

Originally published in 2006, this edition includes several pages of extra drawings interspersed throughout the book, a bit more information about an injury that caused the author to stop dancing for a time, and six scrapbook pages from her years as a dancer. The scrapbook pages are particularly fascinating and add intimacy to the story. 

The illustrations and layout are extremely effective, with a variety of panel sizes, some full-page drawings and lots of color. On several pages artwork has been added in the form of sequences of thumbnail drawings of ballet moves. These depict both motion and the hard work required to master new positions. Overall, the additions make an already stellar graphic novel even better.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Nothing. This remains one of my favorite graphic novels.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommend to readers who enjoy middle-grade graphic novels, along with Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson and Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani. The author references the book A Very Young Dancer by Jill Krementz, which was published in the 1970s but is still available secondhand or in some library collections. It might be fun to read alongside To Dance.

Who should buy this book? Middle schools and public libraries should purchase this book.

Where would you shelve it? Middle-grade graphic novels

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, even if you are not a dancer it is definitely worth reading.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Renée Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA

Date: October 8, 2019


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