When Langston Dances (Kaija Langley)

Hello, friends! Our book today is When Langston Dances, written by Kaija Langley and illustrated by Keith Mallett, a wonderfully empowering tale of one boy’s passion for dance.

Langston likes basketball, but after attending an Alvin Ailey performance, he finds that he LOVES ballet. Having a newfound passion for dance, and with his mother’s ready support, Langston begins practicing poses and moves at every opportunity. He does his best to brush off negative comments, throwing himself into his first dance class in a way that stuns his fellow students and impresses his new teacher. Being a ballet dancer will take work, but Langston is ready – he LOVES to dance.

Majestic. While ballerina books are readily available, ones with male and/or POC protagonists are rare, making this a uniquely inclusive title from the jump. But it is the work of Langley and Mallett that elevate this story of self-acceptance, passion, and pride to a must-read. Langley’s energetic text captures Langston’s irrepressible love for ballet, while deftly and delicately tackling outdated ideas about masculinity. Mallett’s photorealistic illustrations are incredibly engaging – one can see the love in Langston’s mother’s eyes, the pride in ballet teacher Ms. Marie’s smile, and the unfettered joy in Langton’s graceful movements. The final few pages are simply breathtaking, and perfectly capture the exuberance one feels when doing the thing that most brings them happiness – all the more powerful when that someone is a young black boy expressing himself without reservation. The length is great for an elementary storytime, and JJ and I absolutely loved it. Simply put, a fantastic book with the potential to be a modern-day classic, and we highly recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided by The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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