Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina Paperback – January 19, 2016
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Kids' Books of 2017
Looking for great new reads for kids of all ages? Browse our editors' picks for the best kids' books of the year including gorgeous picture books, fun new series starters, and captivating young adult novels.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—In this moving memoir, DePrince, who in 1995 was born in war-torn Sierra Leone but went on to become an acclaimed professional ballerina, tells her story. Her struggles started early: it was discovered that she had vitiligo, a medical condition that results in blotchy, irregular patches of skin, and her biological parents both died when she was only three. DePrince was sold to an orphanage, where she was starved and abused and where she witnessed the brutal murder of her pregnant teacher, a memory that would forever haunt her. After the orphanage was bombed, DePrince and the other orphans fled to a refugee camp. When she was four years old, she and her best friend, Mia, were adopted by the same family and taken to live in the United States. Just before leaving, DePrince found a magazine photograph of a ballerina, and her dream of becoming a dancer was born. Her supportive family did everything they could to help her attain her goal, but the girl still encountered challenges, including prejudice from those who believed African American dancers to be less suited for the craft ("'Black girls just shouldn't be dancing ballet. They're too athletic. They should leave the classical ballet to white girls.'"). However, she persevered and succeeded, becoming the youngest principal dancer for the Dance Theatre of Harlem and joining the Dutch National Ballet. Though the text is accessible and engaging, there are events that are glossed over or not fully fleshed out, such as details of her adopted sister's medical problems. Overall, though, DePrince is an inspiring narrator, wise beyond her years. An uplifting story about overcoming the odds.—Stephanie Farnlacher, Trace Crossings Elementary School, Hoover, AL --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
Starred review, Publishers Weekly, August 11, 2014:
"A compelling narrative . . . The book’s strong thread is Michaela’s lifelong passion for ballet and her candid depiction of the physical and emotional struggles of becoming a black classical ballerina. There is plenty of ballet detail for dance lovers to revel in, and the authors achieve a believable, distinctive teenage voice with a nice touch of lyrical description."
"Readers will find her life story gripping whether or not they are dance fans...the heart of the journey resonates in this mother/daughter collaboration. A revealing and absorbing journey through dance classes and competitions to success."—Kirkus Reviews
“From her earliest days as an orphan in Sierra Leone to the stages of world-renowned theaters, Michaela’s incredible determination to not only survive, but triumph in the face of unthinkable adversity is an inspiration to anyone who has fought for a dream. Her grace and strength bleed through in each of her breathtaking performances. This is a story of great courage that all women—young and old—should read.” —Tina Brown
“Extraordinarily written. Hardship ads to the strength of the people and artists we become and Michaela is nothing short of a miracle, born to be a ballerina. For every young brown, yellow, and purple dancer, she is an inspiration!” —Misty Copeland, world-renowned ballet dancer
From the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Although the book is largely about Michaela's journey, there is another star in the book, and that is her American mother. It is without a doubt that Michaela had the fortitude and determination to make things happen for herself, but the support of her parents (all four of them) afforded her many opportunities she likely would not otherwise have had. The brief details about her American mother make me want to know so much more about this remarkable woman, I hope she writes her own memoir as I would love to read it. I won't spoil anything for you readers, but I will just say the quiet impact this woman has had on the lives of her children and in turn, humanity, is breathtakingly admirable.
It is true that there is a fair amount of ballet jargon in some of the book that might be over the heads of people not in the dance world, but there is so much more to her story than that and it shouldn't detract from a larger, non-dance enthusiast readership (it may even serve to inspire readers to learn more about the art of ballet). The book is first and foremost a memoir and ballet is an important backdrop to the overall story of overcoming the odds to achieve your dreams. I think this book will appeal to anyone who likes to read about any one or several of the following: the unwavering human spirit, feminism/gender equality, breaking racial barriers, family (the one you're born in and the family you choose), adoption, grief and loss, challenging fears, ballet, bridging cultural gaps, early childhood trauma, paving new paths, friendship, what it takes to succeed, and at the heart of it all...love.
Before Michaela and her 'sister' were adopted from war-torn Sierra Leone, the DePrinces' raised 5 sons, two of which had died of AIDs(they were hemophiliacs), with another to suffer the same fate. Taking on two, sick, malnourished four year-olds puts this woman on the level of sainthood in my book. As Michaela relates her life, I can only shudder at how hard it must have been to quiet the two young girls fears of everything from dogs to men with loud voices. Beaten with a switch at the orphanage, never given enough food, never mind being nutritious to a growing child, and dealing with the language barrier, Michaela was growing up with some very bad habits. She had to be taught not hit, kick and bite others, and learn English. There is not comparison to raising a child born to the privilege of the United States.
With great compassion, Elaine mothers these two children and accepts another young girl when her adoptive American parents to don't work out. She fills these girls lives with dance lessons, swimming lessons, music, good food and stability. Her sacrifice is stunning and truly inspirational.
Michaela appreciates all that she now has and works hard to give back some of what she's given. She not only wins wins prestigase ballet came scholarships, but wins at swimming and does her school work with honors. Michaela wants to be an inspiration to young girls in Africa, but frankly, she should be giving talks to American kids who have so much and still feel as if they have nothing. What a grand spirit this young girl has and what a lovely and talented adult she's become.
And bravo for parents like the DePrinces' who spend their lives taking care of the unfortunate, they too are an inspiration.