Posts tagged ‘dance’

September 15, 2014

dancing, dazzling Josephine Baker

by Wendy Lawrence

I love a book that you can’t easily categorize, and this is one of them. At first glance, you think it’s a picture book, bright and boldly covered. But it’s also thick, almost like a middle grade book, and is 104 pages. When you look at the words, you realize it’s a kind of poem, the whole book written in beautiful language that mimics the dancing of its protagonist, Josephine Baker.

josephineTitle: Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker
Author
: Patricia Hruby Powell
Illustrator: Christian Robinson (who has worked for Pixar and Sesame Workshop)
Genre: Nonfiction, Poetry, Art, Dance, African-American
Ages: 7 – 10, but younger children could be read a few pages and older children could use as a research text

This book tells of the life of an amazing woman who ran away from the slums of St. Louis with a dance troupe and made her way to Carnegie Hall and theatres in Paris. She fought tremendous racism, performing at clubs where she wasn’t even allowed to walk through the front door, places she wouldn’t have been allowed to eat. Josephine Baker ended up leaving for Europe where she felt better received and found tremendous success. The book doesn’t dance around any issues: it talks about the Ku Klux Klan, World War II. It talks about how she bleached her skin with lemon juice and how, even after beings so well received in France, she was called a “savage” and a “devil” in Austria. Always wanting to please, she dressed the next night in all white and sang a gorgeous lullaby, a Negro Spiritual called “Pretty Little Baby”. It worked. They called her an “angel”.

Josephine Baker adopted twelve children throughout her life, her famous “Rainbow Tribe”. They came from eleven countries and Josephine brought each of them up celebrating their own religion–Buddhist, Shinto, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and animist. She had a gorgeous and interesting life. She was still performing in her seventies when she died in her sleep after a long night of dancing.

The press release that comes with the book dutifully mentions how it is perfect for February (African-American history month) and April (Poetry month), but seriously, let’s hope it’s read all year long. I love that you can use this book to introduce some very heavy topics to your child, but in a very colorful, happy, positive way, not only because of the colors in the book, but because of the colorful, energetic character who titles it.

September 19, 2012

Ivy and Bean Dance for Free

 

Title: Ivy and bean Doomed to Dance
Author: Annie Barrows
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall

I love this one. Who doesn’t have memories of dance class? My memories of my friend and I starting tap dance in 8th grade. For some reason, maybe partly because it was an older age for kids to start, or maybe it’s just the class we found, we took a class with women 50 and above. Some way above. It was absolutely awesome. I totally fit in. I think I’ve always been about 75 at heart…I guess that’s the opposite of being young at heart, but in a good way, I think. My 4yo, the Wizard of Why, is similar. 🙂

Someone told me recently (while I was wearing a top from Talbots) that I couldn’t wear Talbots yet, I had to save that for when I was older. I replied that I had to start on Talbots now because I needed to have time for my LL Bean days. 🙂 But in reality, I’m already wearing LL Bean. In fact, I have one of their sweaters on right now, and one of the things I’m most excited about my move from Nashville to Michigan is that I can put aside the trendy sundresses for some way more practical winter coats. My mom’s LL Bean boots are already in my front closet, just waiting. But back to dance, I am hoping in my new town to find an adult tap class to start again. And this time, I won’t be out of place.

Want to win a great book about a dance class? Just comment below. Tell me about a dance class experience, or if you, too, are an old soul or maybe you are young at heart. Or just leave your name. Good luck!

And here, of course, are WEEK 5’s winners:

THE BOOK: Heidi Grange
The mini-notes: Jennifer Rumberger, Mary Comfort Stevens, and Carol L

Thanks for playing everyone! Come back every week for more books to win! And don’t forget to comment below to enter this week!

 

 

January 23, 2012

mambo your way into the soul of a good poem

I love my sister. AND (As a teacher writing comments about kids a lot I was taught never to say BUT in situations like this) :), my memories of her learning to play the violin are not pleasant ones. Which is why I vowed that I would never let my children learn to play a stringed instrument until I had a soundproof room in my house. Which is probably why my 3yo (because can’t all 3yo’s read straight into your soul’s deepest fears?) decided that the violin was exactly what he wanted to play.

We are a few months into our lessons and a few stanzas into Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. And let me say this: every time his bow screeches across the strings, twinkle-starring its way through notes both sharp and flat, maybe some at the same time, I smile with pure happiness. Yes, I am that much of a sucker.

Music gets us where it counts. We use it to get us through the work day. We use it when running, to make us go faster. We use it to calm down. We use it to express our love when dancing. It touches every part of our lives and that’s why this book is so good. Just listen to how it begins:

On summer nights
Papi lets me help out
at the music store.

Papi says you can
read people’s souls
by the music
they listen to;
that hearts
fly home
when the music’s
Just Right.

Title: Under the Mambo Moon
Author: Julia Durango
Illustrator: Fabricio VandenBroeck
Genre: Poetry, Fiction
Age: Middle School, High School, Any, really

Summary and ideas: In this book, characters come and go from a record store as music from all over Latin America is played and remembered. Read this book with a record player nearby. (Okay, the internet will do.) Read the book through once and then the second time you read it, play a song every time one kind of music is played. Dance to it. If you really want to embrace the book, learn to dance the different dances. You don’t have to take a formal class; I’m sure YouTube will come through for you. Or if you are reading this with a class or an older child who likes to be challenged, have them write a copycat poem but with their favorite kind of music instead. Mimicking great writers can be a great learning opportunity.

And then tell me: what strong musical memories do you have?