Thursday, July 12, 2012

Alvin Ailey, by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Alvin Ailey
by Andrea Davis Pinkney
illustrated by Brian Pinkney
32 pages

New York: Hyperion
ISBN 9781562824136

In this brief biological narrative, we learn about the childhood and early career of the African-American modern dance genius of New York.

Andrea Davis Pinkney takes readers through the landscapes of Alvin Ailey's life: from slow and summery Texas to balmy Los Angeles to the bustle of New York City, she describes his close ties to family, his inspiration and innovation, his purposeful training, and his triumphant debut. She drops names of famous black performers of the time -- from Katherine Dunham to James Truitte to Martha Graham -- and notes that Ailey was challenged by segregation. An author's note at the end covers some of Ailey's later successes and his legacy, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center.

The text is simple enough for 4-6th graders, but what really makes this book stand out are Brian Pinkney's illustrations. The loosely-crosshatched shading makes all textures -- glass, wood, skin -- look like fabric, while the swirls of color surrounding each figure in motion emphasize the rhythm of the story and Ailey's choreography.

no Author Info
Illustrator Info
Media: colored pencil, oil pastel

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