Updated: Feb 12
Stenetta Anthony loves writing children's books that inspire children to believe in themselves and to follow their dreams.
After teaching in the classroom for more than 20 years, Stenetta went from reading books to writing them. Her first children's books were The Love Story (2018), a Christian tale of love and sacrifice, and A Home for Sally (2018), a story about a young poodle with a disability who dreams of having a home of her own.
Her latest book, Ella Learns to Dance (2022) is about a young elephant who fulfills her wish of dancing ballet.
In this Q&A, we ask Stenetta what inspired her latest book and why she decided to bring this story to young audiences.
1. What inspired you to write this story?
Ella Learns to Dance was inspired after reflecting on my childhood memories. I enjoyed watching modern dance and also danced it myself in high school, but I certainly wasn't as graceful as the dancers I had watched for many years. Practicing a new routine was often very difficult especially when some of my classmates teased me about my awkward movements.
Through Ella’s story, I wanted to teach audiences that although they may meet with challenges when learning a new skill, it's important to push past the limitations set by others or sometimes by themselves. It will all be worth it when they finally accomplish their dreams in the end.
2. Why did you choose an elephant who dances ballet?
I chose an elephant because these animals are large and not considered to be graceful creatures. It's hard to imagine an elephant dancing ballet.
Ballet, more than other dance forms, also focuses more on lower body motion, such as standing gracefully on your tiptoes. Such movements are considered very difficult for an elephant, so I chose ballet to show the great challenge an elephant would face in learning it.
3. What do you want to tell readers with your story?
This book inspires children and the young at heart that while some may consider their dream to be unattainable, they should never be afraid to pursue it, no matter how difficult it may seem.
4. How do the illustrations complement the text?
Illustrations are an essential part of picture books, so I was proactive in showing prospective images to children who shared their honest opinions with me. Based on these comments, I chose the illustrations that best captured the spirit of the story.