Today we are chatting with Charlotte Nebres, author of
Charlotte and the Nutcracker!
Read on for more about Charlotte, her book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Charlotte Nebres!
Charlotte Nebres is a twelve-year-old pre-professional ballet dancer. Charlotte was the first Black dancer to be cast as Marie–the young heroine of “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker”–in New York City Ballet’s show. Her history-making performance during the 2019 holiday season was covered by The New York Times, CBS News, Essence, GMA, and more. Charlotte is currently a student at the School of American Ballet. Charlotte lives in New Jersey with her parents, brother, and sister. Find her on Instagram at @charlottenebres.
Meet Charlotte and the Nutcracker:
The True Story of a Girl Who Made Ballet History!
Random House Children’s Books is thrilled to publish this Holiday season, CHARLOTTE AND THE NUTCRACKER (Random House Books for Young Readers | On-sale December 1, 2021| Ages 4-8) by Charlotte Nebres and illustrated by Alea Marley. This beautifully illustrated, reimagined, modern take on the holiday favorite weaves together the classic Christmas tale of The Nutcracker and the true-life story of 12-year-old ballerina Charlotte Nebres, the first Black girl to play Marie in the New York City Ballet’s production.
The only thing Charlotte loves as much as ballet is Christmas. So, when she gets the opportunity to play Marie in the New York City Ballet’s The Nutcracker, she leaps at the chance. Dancing takes practice-hours of adjusting her arms and perfecting her jumps. With the help of her Trinidadian and Filipino families, encouragement from her sister, and a view of her mom and dad in the audience, Charlotte finds the strength to never give up.
In this spectacular debut full of fluid, dynamic illustrations, Charlotte provides readers with a multicultural tale of family, dance, and holiday cheer. At only 11 years old, Charlotte’s groundbreaking performance was covered by major media outlets including the New York Times, GMA, Essence, CBS, BET, the New York Post, and many more. Charlotte’s story is one of hard work, inspiration, and the sweetness that comes from never giving up.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
My inspiration for writing this book came from my experience performing as Marie in The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. I thought kids might like to know how I got there and what it actually feels like to be a child performing in a professional production.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
A scene I’m very proud of is the illustration of the curtain rising on opening night. You see my silhouette alone on stage looking out at the very large audience. The artwork captures the emotion of the moment very accurately and also shows the beauty of the theater. Those two pages give me chills and I think young readers will also feel the excitement of that moment.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
One of the most important things I learned as a writer from the beginning to now is learning how to identify the scope of the story you want to tell and staying focused. I worked closely with my editor to decide how to tell the story. I had to decide if it would be a re-telling of the classic Nutcracker story, or if it should be about a day in the life of performing in the show? I ended up deciding it should be the story of a young dancer and how holiday traditions, like performing in the Nutcracker, have made an impact on me.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
The illustration on the cover is so magical. You know right away the story is about a little black girl who did something special. My heart always skips a beat when I see a book with a person of color on the cover. It’s so exciting to know that my book could now bring that happy feeling to someone else. I also like that the title lets the reader know it’s a true story.
The illustrator Alea Marley did a great job of capturing the beauty of my costume and the color palette she chose is beautiful. There are also some glossy details which I really love.
YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
I’m really enjoying reading Black Ballerinas by Misty Copeland. It’s like an encyclopedia of black dancers and the illustrations are gorgeous. This book is truly a gift for those in the dance world as well as those who want to celebrate the accomplishments of so many talented women. It’s a must have!
YABC: What’s up next for you?
My sister and I started a Little Diverse Library in my town during the pandemic. It’s like the Little Free Libraries that are so popular, but this one specifically offers books that feature diverse authors, stories and characters. In 2022 I will continue to curate books for our Little Diverse Library to share with my community. I’m also hoping to bring a new Little Diverse Library to an under-served community near me. I look forward to sharing more of these beautiful books.
YABC: What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from this book?
The main message I would like readers to remember from this book is that big dreams can become a reality and that there’s room for everyone to get a chance to shine! There’s never been a little girl who looks like me to play such a big role on such a big stage. I wanted to share how I got there & what it felt like. I also hope the book shows little girls of color that there is a place for them in classical ballet & they can do it too!
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
My quiet voice. I have a very quiet voice and can be a little shy so people don’t always hear me, especially in a group. That has been challenging for me, but through this experience I’ve learned that people do listen. Maybe my quiet voice actually causes them to listen more carefully. Sometimes the quietest voices have the most important things to say and your message can get through to those who need to hear it, one way or another.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I am a very dedicated Girl Scout and I really enjoy being in a troop and helping out in my community. I get a lot of opportunities to be a leader and practice public speaking which is not always easy for me since I have trouble pronouncing certain letters. It’s also a lot of fun camping and crafting.
YABC: Is there anything that you would like to add?
I think this story is for everyone. We can all relate to special memories during the holidays and sharing family traditions. I hope people like learning a little more about me and my family’s holiday traditions.
Charlotte and the Nutcracker
Author: Charlotte Nebres
Publisher: Random House Childrens Books
Publish Date: December 12th, 2021
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*