Sunday, June 9, 2013

Giant Dance Party, by Betsy Bird and Brandon Dorman (ages 3-8) - snap-happy fun!

There is something completely liberating about dancing -- letting your body move with the rhythm of the music, bopping along and feeling the beat pulse through you. And yet, there's something utterly terrifying about dancing in front of other people. Betsy Bird captures this crazy conflict with sheer delight in her debut picture book Giant Dance Party. If you're looking for a fun book to read aloud with your child or to a class, definitely seek this out.
Giant Dance Party
by Betsy Bird
illustrated by Brandon Dorman
Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2013
ages 3-8
at your local library
on Amazon
Lexy loves to dance. She loves dancing with her friends, in front of her stuffed animals, any type of dance. But there is one thing she cannot stand: dancing on stage in front of an expectant audience.
"Every time she was sure her stage fright was gone, along came another recital, and blammo! Ice pop."
Lexy's a determined kid, so she decides to turn her love of dance into a profession. She'll be a dance teacher - they never have to go on stage for a recital! As you can guess from the cover, Lexy's first students are a rowdy group of fuzzy, blue giants. You see, giants love to dance but they don't know how.

Bird's text and Dorman's illustrations work like a charm with a group, especially when you're willing to put a little pep into your reading. When I let loose a little with our kindergartners, they loved it - bopping along with the story (floor dancing, the kindergarten version of car dancing, is totally allowed in the library!). My favorite was the chicken dance!

The text is bouncy, easy to read aloud, and filled with all sorts of layers of humor for kids and adults. The digital illustrations have a cartoon feel that mirrors the energy and enthusiasm of kids, perfectly amplifying Lexy's crazy, silly world where giants show up to take dance lessons. And yet Dorman's use of colors and round figures keep the tone sweet instead of chaotic.

Betsy Bird is a children's librarian at the New York Public Library and writes the blog Fuse #8. She's definitely brought her experience as a storyteller and entertainer of little kids to her debut picture book. As she tells Cynthia Leitich Smith in a very interesting interview over at Cynsations:
"Do enough storytimes and you develop an ear for cadence. For rhythm and language. You see what subjects do and do not work. You figure out how much to say, and where to scale back."
Want to have some fun and host your own giant dance party? Check out Betsy's fun guest post at HarperCollins Children’s Books School & Library Blog The Page Turn. Break out some cool blue food (blue ice pops, blue popcorn, and blueberry cupcakes). Add some music for little monsters. And of course, some idea for great costumes.

It's not often that I review a book by a friend and colleague, but I thoroughly tested Giant Dance Party with kindergartners at Emerson. They gave it a unanimous, unprompted, huge-smiling approval. The review copies were kindly sent by the publishers, HarperCollins. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing entertaining and easy-to-read posts, Mary Ann! Great work!