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I WILL DANCE

Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 2 weeks, 1 day ago

31 December 2020 I WILL DANCE by Nancy Bo Flood and Julianna Swaney, ill., Atheneum, May 2020, 48p., ISBN: 978-1-5344-3061-7

 

“Right foot right, left foot left

They got me on the run

Now I know what grownups do

When they go out for fun”

-- my hazy recollection of “I’d Rather Dance Than Eat,” the song to which our Saturday afternoon dance class tap-danced when I was in second grade.

 

Back then, I learned that moving my body to music was a lot of fun. These days it’s just two of us dancing at home. But when a pandemic’s not in the way, we are longtime participants in Lindy in the Park, a Sunday tradition in Golden Gate Park for more than a quarter-century.

 

I WILL DANCE is a lovely book about the act of dancing. There are a couple of reasons to share this one with pre-Ks and early elementary students. First, it’s a physical education book about moving your body in healthy, creative ways. Sometimes we dance in coordination with others. That can be magic to participate in and to watch. Sometimes we dance alone, or even just stride to the rhythm. Second, this tale of inclusivity is told from the view of a girl in a motorized wheelchair. The dance class for girls to which she ventures includes a couple of other differently abled children among the crowd. 

 

“Welcome?

I roll forward

onto the dance floor.

Join us.

We are many dancers, one circle.

We each pass the touch.

The instructor steps

toward

me.

Her eyes meet mine. Her hand opens. She reaches,

dances closer, until her fingers touch mine. 

She nods.

Something inside me changes.

I turn to the person next to me.

I lift my finger up, then down,

swirl my fingers around.

He watches then reaches,

echoes my movement, adds his own,

passes the touch, until the circle is complete.

We are all one circle.”

 

The main character has watched and wondered and dreamed of dancing. She’s had moments of real frustration. This class experience is a success story for everyone involved. The girl connects and bonds with her classmates. They come to see past her disabilities to the person, as we want our children to learn to do.

 

This rhythmic celebration of dancing is written by an educator who has developed programs for students with disabilities. I love illustrator Julianna Swaney’s eye-catching watercolor and graphite illustrations. The girls are buoyant and remind me of Alison Lester’s work from thirty years ago.  The young characters vary by color, body shape, and abilities. There’s a lot of waving rhythm to the artwork, a lot of bounding energy.  

 

As the teacher would say, On Four. One...Two...

 

Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com

https://www.facebook.com/richiespicks/

richiepartington@gmail.com  

 

 

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