Illustrations by James E. Ransome
Foreward by Robert Battle
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paul Wiseman Books
Release Date: October 27, 2015
When Robert Battle was a boy he wore painful leg braces. He never imagined that one day he would go to Julliard or become a director of a dance company, the very same one that motivated him to dance in the first place. This is the story of that journey from leg braces to martial arts to dancing. It is about passion and dreams. For Robert Battle dance was a way to tell stories and in this book it is just another way to share this rich tradition with a new generation.
When it comes to picture book biographies there is always a careful balance that must be made between the amount of textual information and illustrations. For me, there was far too much text for a picture book. Although I thought the information and story of Robert Battle's journey was fascinating there were times where I felt like there was too much information and at others, I felt like I was missing a piece of the puzzle. For example: It was a bit confusing who was raising Robert and why he was being passed around from family member to family member. Worse than missing this information was that this would have been a good moment to let the reader know how Robert felt about this, but what was strangely lacking throughout most of the story were feelings. Instead the story just felt glossy. Full of dreams and the fulfillment of them and not much else.
But let us not forget that Robert Battle has created some beautiful dances and although this book doesn't work for me as a picture book biography, it doesn't take away from the amazing accomplishments that he has achieved in the world of dance.