Trailblazer, the story of ballerina Raven Wilkinson

I don’t know about you, but there weren’t too many children’s books that honored famous ballerinas when I was little. But times are changing, and let’s face it… ballet is cool. As we reported a few weeks back, “Trailblazer,” is officially available at all major book carriers. And we're super excited, because it’s time kids really know some of ballet's greatest inspirations - inspirations like Raven Wilkinson.

As you may remember, Wilkinson is the first African American woman to dance for a major classical ballet company, and she is an inspiration for many, including Misty Copeland. In fact, Copeland’s forward opens the book and sets the scene for this kid-friendly biography. She tells readers that sharing Wilkinson’s journey is a part of her passion for sharing the history of black ballerinas. Which is why this is so important - it’s an untold story that deserves to be told.

But as with any children's book, the text isn't the only important thing. It's the illustrations that really make magic, particuarly for younger readers. And the illustrations in "Trailblazer," done by Theodore Taylor III, really enable kids to see and feel what is was like to live such a groundbreaking and exciting life in a way that sometimes words cannot. Moreover, it helps children visualize themselves in their shoes and realize that they really can do anything! Imagine picking up this book in your library when you were 9 years old (the same age Wilkinson began dancing), and thought to yourself, “I want to be just like her.” It’s an opportunity for so many young girls to see themselves in a different light, and maybe one day, the spotlight.

About the author

Keira Whitaker is a dedicated teacher, performer, and choreographer, who has been dancing for the past 21 years. She recently graduated from the University of California Irvine with a BFA in Dance performance and a minor in English.