Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ballet for Martha

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Here at Teach Mentor Texts we are always looking for more ways to support teachers! We've found that teachers seem to be constantly on the lookout for great nonfiction. We know we are! To help with this undying quest for outstanding non-fiction, we are excited to participate in Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and The Nonfiction Detectives. Every Wednesday, you'll find a non-fiction review here - although it may not always be a picture book review. Please visit Kid Lit Frenzy to see what non-fiction others have to share, too.

Title: Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring
Author: Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
Illustrator: Brian Floca
Publisher: Flash Point
Publication Date: August, 2010
Genre/Format: Non-fiction/Picture Book
Goodreads Summary: Martha Graham : trailblazing choreographer
     Aaron Copland : distinguished American composer
     Isamu Noguchi : artist, sculptor, craftsman
     Award-winning authors Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan tell the story behind the scenes of the collaboration that created APPALACHIAN SPRING, from its inception through the score’s composition to Martha’s intense rehearsal process. The authors’ collaborator is two-time Sibert Honor winner Brian Floca, whose vivid watercolors bring both the process and the performance to life.
What I Think: This book is a testament to collaboration. It shows what can happen if 3 brilliant minds get together and want to make something together- both Appalachian Spring and Ballet for Martha were constructed by a group of 3 amazing people. 
     I really love this unique perspective into American History. Aaron Copland is already a name that is part of American vocabulary, but Martha Graham and Isamu Noguchi should be as well and this book shows how they both played a role in helping Aaron Copland to become one of the most well-known American composers. 
     When reading this book, the thing that struck me the most was the specific word choice that allows you to visualize the ballet, music and sets so accurately. It would be a great source for sharing with students how using the right verb or adjective can really change the imagery which a writer portrays. 
Read Together: Grades 4 to 9
Read Alone: Grades 4 and up
Read With: Nonfiction text about ballet, choreography, composing or set designing
Snatch of Text: "There are no steps yet, but Aaron knows the way
Martha and her dancers move. 
Her steps are unusual.
She moves differently from ballerinas. 
No toe shoes. No tutus. No pirouettes. 
'Nobody else seems anything like Martha,' he says. 'There's 
something simple yet strong about here, which one thinks of 
as very American.'" (p. 8) 

"Slowly the Bride glides in, 
the runs to her groom. 
The Preacher's four Followers file in. 
The music turns lively and playful as the young girls dance in pairs, 
then form circles, fluttering, skittering, reaching up to the sky." (p. 28-29)
Mentor Text for: Vocabulary Development, Imagery, Word Choice (Verbs, Adjectives), Visualizing
Writing Prompts: The authors included a "Curtain Call" which gives us more detail into the lives of our three stars- what aspect of their lives do you wish had been explored more in the picture book?; Aaron Copland was so inspired by Martha that he composed an entire ballet for her- has anyone ever inspired you to do something? Or is there someone who has inspired you enough that if you were going to write a song, book, poem, etc. it would be about them?
Topics Covered: Dance, Music, Composing, Collaboration, Set Building, Appalachian Spring
I *heart* It:

(4.5 stars) 

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