When the music began, they would dance. This was the part that Martina liked best. She felt like the songs were inside her. When the music rose, she would leap into the air, pretending she could fly.

When the music was light and cheerful, Martina twirled round and round, like the toy ballerina on her music box. Marching music made her step smartly, like a soldier. Soft, whispery music made her tiptoe.

Music released the joyfulness in Martina’s spirit. She expressed all kinds of happy feelings by letting the music tell her how to move.  Kids know this and they relate to Martina’s joy in dance.

I was in Charleston a few weekends ago. At a corner on Market Street, a souped-up car came to a stop—hip hop music blaring from its open windows. My two year-old grandson started dancing. A smile broke out on the driver’s face. Teenagers from a crew team started dancing too.  The driver laughed out loud with pleasure. More people burst into spontaneous dance due to this tender child’s response to music. His innocent joy was the catalyst. His unbridled happiness was infectious to young and old alike.

I hope we all remember to release our spirits and dance as spontaneously and joyfully as a little child.

My inspiration for writing this book was, and is, my family. In my childhood apartment in Woodside, Queens, we danced on the living room linoleum floor. My mother taught me ballroom and my grandfather showed me Irish step dancing. This was supplemented by my extended family – neighbors – who invited me to join them in Spanish folk dancing, and later, into the world of Latin dance. I also took tap at a local school, but the real dance fever came from my family.

When I was writing Martina Ballerina, my little daughter Christina was just starting dance lessons. Even though I had just had a baby – my son Michael – I was already dragging the three of us to her lessons! I remember hefting the baby seat and coaxing the three-and-a-half year old up a steep flight of stairs to her class. Thank goodness it was just once a week!

But what else could I do? Dancing seemed like an essential – like swimming might be to those who live by the shore. It also had an allure that I felt from listening to my family’s stories. As a young woman my mother danced to live music played by Tommy Dorsey, his brother Jimmy, and their mother Pat.  She danced to the Big Bands at places with names like the Tuxedo Ballroom. My grandfather performed at parties and dances in the old country before he came to America.

Naming the main character came from the natural inclination to rhyme. I considered Christina but decided to mix it with my grandfather’s name Martin.


Hi there! I’d like to introduce myself as a new author. My name is Imelda Rose Sobiloff and I just published my first book, Martina Ballerina. I wrote it because I love dance, children and reading. But there’s more to the story than that.

I actually wrote the manuscript for the book nearly 30 years ago when I was post-career as a stay-at-home mom with two small children. I entered a writing contest back in 1989, from the Authors/Writers Network of NY and NJ. To my surprise and delight, I won their top award: The Supreme Storyteller Award!

Fueled by this success, I sought publication. Martina Ballerina made it up several levels at a major publishing house to become a final candidate for spring publication. But as ill luck would have it, it was cut. Another house was launching a competing book with nearly the same name: Angelina Ballerina. I knew then that my chances were zero to none. I put the manuscript aside and forgot about it.

All these years later my two adult children surprised me for my 60th birthday with the gift of a lifetime. They had dug up my manuscript, formatted it for self-publication and presented me with my own book just a click away from being on the market.

You can imagine how touched and surprised I was. I was blown away by this deeply meaningful gift.

I walked on air for a few weeks and then decided to take it a step further. I would craft, polish and present the best and most beautiful picture children’s book I was capable of.  I would transform the self-published version into a gold standard book for children with spirit and passion. I partnered with Archway Publishing to make this happen.

Then I spent months finding the right illustrator. I contacted a few of my favorite children’s illustrators—a long shot—but you never know. I received lovely words of encouragement but no commitments. So, I scoured the internet, looking at the major and minor sites, and I eventually found David Pfendler, a talented illustrator whose works included children’s books and, in particular, ballerina sketches. He turned out to be both professional and easy to work with. You can see his portfolio at davidpfendler.com.

After eleven months of work, Martina Ballerina hit the market in November 2017. I hope you like it! It was a labor of love. It is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.