propernoun.net is a children’s literature blog that offers reviews of all sorts of books from children’s titles to teen and adult. It is written by Mindy, a librarian working in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin by Michelle Lord, illustrated by Felicia Hoshino.
Little Sap is a poor girl in Cambodia who gets the chance to audition for the royal dance troupe. Though she worries about her dark skin from the sun and dirty fingernails, she is chosen to be part of the troupe. Little Sap spends years learning to dance. Then the princess gives word that the troupe will be traveling to France to perform. They travel on a large ship from Cambodia to France where they perform on a large stage. In the audience is the French artist, Auguste Rodin. He asks some of the children to pose for him. Little Sap quickly becomes a favorite subject of his sketches.
The author Lord has mixed history with some fiction to create this story. At the end of the story she explains what parts are true and what she had to guess at. The story is very readable and appealing. The illustrations are deep colored and evocative. Children who are interested in dance will enjoy reading about the hard work and dedication it takes. But even better, this is one of those books that give children a window into another culture and a heroine to identify with there.