- Age Range: 6 - 10 years
- Grade Level: 1 - 3
- Lexile Measure: AD710L (What's this?)
- Series: Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children (Awards)
- Hardcover: 48 pages
- Publisher: Flash Point; First edition (August 3, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1596433388
- ISBN-13: 978-1596433380
- Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 0.4 x 10.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring (Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children (Awards)) Hardcover – August 3, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Gr 2-6–If Martha Graham's choreography for “Appalachian Spring” was a “valentine” to the world, as critics wrote in 1944, then this book is a love letter in return. Simple, poetic prose tells the story of the creation of one of the world's most-loved ballets and compositions, and Floca's graceful watercolor illustrations take admirers through every part of its development. Written in the present tense, the narrative has a sense of drama that carries readers along as if the events were happening in real time. Fascinating details about the collaboration among Graham, Copland, and Isamu Noguchi (set design) are well documented in the lengthy “curtain call,” notes, and resources pages, which read like a fantastic set of liner notes. Floca varies the illustrations from vignettes to bird's-eye views to landscapes and expertly capture the fluid movements of the dancers. The page layouts are well planned to create the most movement and interest. The authors researched extensively but found a way to crystallize all of the information into a gem that is approachable for young readers. More than anything, this work emphasizes the value of collaboration and celebrates the work that Graham, Copland, and Noguchi did to bring together the performing and visual arts. Readers may be inspired to go to Russell Freedman's Martha Graham: A Dancer's Life (Clarion, 1998) and should be encouraged to check out one of Leonard Bernstein's definitive recordings of “Appalachian Spring” and a video of the ballet.Cheri Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Dance. Music. Set. All of these elements contribute to the experience of Appalachian Spring, an American classic that continues to thrill audiences. But authors Greenberg and Jordan are less concerned with presenting the ballet (although readers do get a strong sense of it) and more interested in how such an extraordinary collaboration came to be. How does an idea go from a jotted note on choreographer Martha Graham’s pad to a fierce triumph? In crisp yet patient sentences, the authors begin with a vision: a story to be told in movement and music, an American pioneer tale. Composer Aaron Copland takes his cues from his knowledge of Graham’s powerful yet simple dance style. A Shaker hymn leads him to the music, which in turn ignites Graham’s choreography. But one more element is needed. Enter artist Isamu Noguchi, whose set design is as spare and strong as the ballet. The collaboration continues as the dance becomes fully formed, opening triumphantly in 1944. In this book, too, disparate elements come together. Matching the mood of Graham’s moves, the writing is pared down but full of possibilities. Floca’s ink-and-watercolor artwork nimbly shifts from the prosaic (Copland reading Graham’s script) to the visionary (a bride and groom on the open prairie) to the several-spread finale of the ballet itself. The book as a whole beautifully captures the process of artistic creation. The extensive back matter that concludes is welcome, but what readers will surely want after putting this down is to see and hear Appalachian Spring for themselves. Grades 2-4. --Ilene Cooper
View some sample illustrations from Ballet for Martha [PDF].
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The noted and revered American artist, Isamu Noguchi, born in Los Angeles, was taken to Japan by his mother to meet his estranged father when he was three, and then sent back to America when thirteen to "reclaim his heritage". "Thirteen-year-old Isamu, his suitcase packed with his carpenter tools, traveled alone by steamship to California, then by train to Indiana to a boarding school his mother had read about in a magazine. Like Martha, his first view of the huge American landscape was through a train window. He arrived at the school, only to find that it had been closed to become an army base to train troops for World War I (1914-1918). Isamu stayed with a [local] family in a nearby town [LaPorte IN] until he graduated [from the local Public High School in 1922]." In his own words he had become "a real Hoosier."
That historic aside doesn't interfere with the delightfully pictured storytelling that takes a youngster soaring in his mind's eye through Americana. --Glenn Ralston
If your looking for a deep, all-telling description of the making of Appalachian Spring...Ballet for Martha this may not be for you. However its a honestly enjoyable picture book for anyone who enjoys Graham.
This story is actually more interesting than I thought it would be. The book is essentially the biography of the ballet Appalachian Spring much like The Music in George's Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue is a biography of Rhapsody in Blue. I was not familiar with Martha Graham or Isamu Noguchi but I enjoyed learning about them, along with Aaron Copeland, with my daughter. I also particularly enjoyed some of the Martha Graham quotes included. “My dancers never fall to simply fall. They fall to rise.” I also liked the quote, “Ugliness, if given a powerful voice, can be beautiful.”