A Dance Like Starlight


Title: A Dance Like Starlight

Author: Kristy Dempsey

Illustrator: Floyd Cooper

Publisher:Philomel Books

Year: 2014

Word Count: 937


Story Element #2 CONFLICT  There are two main types of conflict in literature, internal and external. I  found a short youtube video explaining these two main types of conflict.  

Conflict is crucial! Without conflict there is no story. Conflict creates tension in the story and conflict done well makes the reader question how it will be resolved. Therefore, the best stories have resolutions that are directly related to the conflicts.

In the story, A Dance Like Starlight, The main character is a young black girl who dreams of becoming a prima ballerina. Every night she watches the sky for the first star to make her wish. But through the lights and dirt of the city, it’s hard to see the stars.  In addition to the fact that she can’t find the wishing star, her mama tells her there’s no use to wish on stars. She tells her that wishes are a waste of time anyway. Mama says that hope is stronger than wishes. ‘”Hope can pick your dreams up, she says, off the floor of your heart  when you think it can’t happen…”

So far, it seems as this may be an internal conflict. Then, the author uses historical events to increase the conflict in the story. The reader soon learns that there is an external conflict in this story. Mama sews and cleans costumes for the ballet school for white children. Sometimes the girl tries on the costumes and practices the steps at home. But she knows she cannot dance on stage with them.

Then one day the Ballet Master sees her dancing backstage. He holds her face in his hands and gives her hope. ‘Brava’ he says to her.  He allows her to join lessons from the back of the room even though she is not allowed to take the stage with the white girls. This gives her hope to dream even though the odds are stacked against her, and so she continues to practice. And her hope turns into hard work.

The resolution comes in the form of a newspaper article. The world’s first colored prima ballerina, Janet Collins, is scheduled to dance at the Metropolitan Opera House. She and Mama ride in the back of the bus transferring three times to get there. And when they do, she sits at the edge of her seat throughout the performance. When Miss Collins dances the audience stands and claps and shouts ‘brava’. The young girl tells the reader, “Hope puffs up my chest just a bit. One day, those voices will be for me.”



17 Responses to “A Dance Like Starlight”

  1. Linda E.H. February 18, 2015 at 6:05 PM #

    this sounds like a great inspirational book for girls


  2. SevenAcreSky February 17, 2015 at 12:01 AM #

    Rich indeed in conflict…far away from dreams, prohibited from stage area, Momma’s discouraging words. A great example. Wonderful book Juliana that I too will search for. Thanks.


  3. Joyce Tucker February 15, 2015 at 7:18 PM #

    Sounds like a beautiful story. I, too, will ad this to my list to read. Conflict(s) in social justice stories certainly run deep. Thanks for sharing.


  4. thelogonauts February 15, 2015 at 7:04 PM #

    Love this book, and great details in your analysis. Looks like we were really on the same wave length today – I analyzed a new Civil Rights era book for Conflict as well.


    • Juliana Lee February 15, 2015 at 7:17 PM #

      Thank you Katie. I liked your choice as well. And, I agree with you. There are only four conflicts in literature (outside of the internal/external division). Man vs Man, Self, Nature, and Society. Well said!


  5. Joyce Tucker February 15, 2015 at 5:46 PM #

    Oh my…this is definitely one to add to my “to-read” list as well. It’s so timely that you did this one being it is Black History Month. Thank you for sharing!


    • Juliana Lee February 15, 2015 at 6:37 PM #

      I’m sure you’ll like it Joyce… any time of the year!


  6. Christie Wright Wild February 15, 2015 at 5:30 PM #

    Great job! I can see another PB Element it quite fits: THEME. I see this as a good example for the theme of hope. I think this book will inspire more people to go for their dreams. Thanks. And here’s a link to an interview with the author about her debut book, back in 2011. INTERVIEW


    • Juliana Lee February 15, 2015 at 6:35 PM #

      Thank you Christie! The interview is great, thanks for adding it!


  7. doriskstone February 15, 2015 at 2:22 PM #

    Thank you, Juliana for the great review of “A Dance Like Star Light.” It is now on my, to read list. I also enjoyed the conflict video.


    • Juliana Lee February 15, 2015 at 3:37 PM #

      You’re quite welcome! I learn so much from quick videos and they can explain a concept so much better than I can.


  8. ManjuBeth February 15, 2015 at 12:07 PM #

    Thanks, Juliana! I have this PB on my must read list. I love these lines – “Hope puffs up my chest just a bit. One day, those voices will be for me.”


    • Juliana Lee February 15, 2015 at 3:36 PM #

      Yes, very powerful! And even though it’s not a true story, it is one based in truth. Hopefully a lot of children will see that overcoming large and small obstacles is hard, but not impossible.


  9. Jane Healy February 15, 2015 at 9:37 AM #

    Thanks for featuring this book–another one to add to my list–and the info on conflict.


    • Juliana Lee February 15, 2015 at 10:06 AM #

      My pleasure, Jane. 🙂 This really is a good one!


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