Michaela DePrince was born in war-torn Sierra Leone during the country’s decade-long civil war. Rebels killed her father, and shortly after her mother died of fever and starvation. Michaela had vitiligo, a disease that causes patches of skin to lose its color. In Michaela’s native land vitiligo was considered a curse of the devil. This caused her uncle to abandon her at an orphanage. There she was taunted and abused by the women who cared for the children. They called her the devil’s child.
One day Michaela found a magazine blowing in the wind. On its cover was a photograph of a beautiful ballerina en pointe. Once Michaela saw this she found hope and determination to one day become just like that ballerina. Soon after the discovery of the magazine, an American family, Elaine and Charles DePrince, a Jewish couple from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, adopted Michaela, and brought her home to the United States. The DePrinces have 11 children, including Michaela, none of whom are adopted.
Since then Michaela’s memoir has been published under different titles in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Brazil, Japan, Korea, and Poland. Michaela also worked with her mother on BALLERINA DREAMS, a Random House Children’s Step-into-Reading book for young readers between the ages of six and eight years old.