She Kept Dancing: The True Story of a Professional Dancer with a Limb Difference (Hardcover)
This warm and inviting picture book, cowritten with Catherine Laudone and brightly illustrated by Natelle Quek, takes young readers along on Sydney’s journey—through the joyous ups as well as the crushing downs—and tells the story of how through it all, she kept dancing.
No two dances were the same. Each one was beautiful because it was different—just like how Sydney’s body was also beautiful because it was different.
Sydney Mesher was born with ten toes and five fingers. But it was her toes that her mom noticed first. "I can tell she’s going to be a dancer," she said.
And it turned out Mom was right—after years of hard work, Sydney eventually danced her way onto the famous stage of Radio City Music Hall, becoming the first Rockette with a visible disability.
Catherine Laudone is a children’s book author and editor. She Kept Dancing is her co-authored picture book debut. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and currently lives in New Jersey. When not writing or editing, she enjoys drinking chocolate tea, crocheting, and baking.
Natelle Quek is a Malaysian-born children’s book illustrator who grew up in New Zealand, and now calls the UK home. In a previous life, she worked as a biochemistry technician in various laboratories before hanging up her lab coat and pursuing a career in illustration. Her debut as a published illustrator came in 2021 with The Little Mermaid, a reimagining of the classic tale by Anna Kemp. She has since illustrated several young fiction and picture books, including She Kept Dancing by Sydney Mesher and Catherine Laudone. Natelle lives in leafy, historic Kent with her husband, a grumpy cat, and a loud-snoring dog. In her free time, she loves to explore nature trails and tend to her vast collection of house plants.
Praise for She Kept Dancing:
"Shines a spotlight on Sydney’s empowering message of 'celebrating different body types.' ... Quek’s effervescent digital illustrations are full of motion and emotion. Photographs and a 'Note from Sydney' round out this inspiring introduction to an athlete gracefully kicking down disability barriers and misconceptions." —Booklist
"Aspiring dancers will especially enjoy [Sydney's] journey, and readers with limb differences will find reassurance that their bodies, too, are 'worth celebrating.' ... Affirming and uplifting." —Kirkus Reviews
"Written with Laudone, Mesher’s personal tale centers persistence in following a dream alongside a message of 'celebrating different body types using a language everyone could understand: dance.' ... The honest, sensitive voice doesn’t shy away from representing the cruel words that Mesher endured ('Others called her a monster'), while also capturing the joy of 'turning, swaying, and leaping.' Depicting characters with a variety of skin tones, Quek’s figure-focused cartoon art enlivens the pages with energetic depictions of movement." —Publishers Weekly