A fun, kid-friendly history of one of humanity’s most enduring forms of expression.

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HOW THEY BECAME FAMOUS DANCERS

A DANCING HISTORY

This slim, illustrated volume for young readers details the lives of 12 dancers from around the world and across the centuries and teaches readers how to create works in their individual styles.

Dance is a universal art form; yet while nearly all cultures practice it, very few do so in the same way. In this brief history, six male and six female dancers are profiled for their different contributions to the art. Beginning with France’s King Louis XIV, an avid ballet dancer who founded the Royal Academy of Dance, the book tells the stories of such diverse luminaries as William Henry “Juba” Lane, possibly the first professional African-American dancer and a favorite performer of Charles Dickens; Anna Pavlova, the Russian ballerina who appeared around the world and became a household name; and Michio Ito, a Japanese dancer who sought to unite Eastern and Western styles but couldn’t avoid being deported from his adopted country during World War II. At the end of each lavishly illustrated chapter, readers are given prompts to help them choreograph their own works in each dancer’s unique style; one can experiment with the signature floating jumps of ballerina Marie Taglioni, the expressive use of eyes in the traditional Indian dance of Mrinalini Sarabhai, and the storytelling in the Mexican folk dance of Amalia Hernández. Dunkin (Dancing in Your School: A Guide for Preschool and Elementary School Teachers, 2006) is a longtime dance educator, and her experience comes through in her clear and easy-to-follow choreographic instructions at the end of each chapter. Her prompts—by far the best thing about the book—guide readers through each step of the different dance styles while also leaving plenty of room for creative interpretation. Active young readers and students of the art form should love getting the opportunity to try out everything from courtly French ballet to American modern dance and beyond, discovering which styles best suit their own personalities without feeling stifled in the way that one often can be by traditional dance classes.

A fun, kid-friendly history of one of humanity’s most enduring forms of expression.

Pub Date: March 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5088-5902-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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DRAGON HOOPS

The trials of a high school basketball team trying to clinch the state title and the graphic novelist chronicling them.

The Dragons, Bishop O’Dowd High School’s basketball team, have a promising lineup of players united by the same goal. Backed by Coach Lou Richie, an alumnus himself, this could be the season the Oakland, California, private Catholic school breaks their record. While Yang (Team Avatar Tales, 2019, etc.), a math teacher and former National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, is not particularly sporty, he is intrigued by the potential of this story and decides to focus his next graphic novel on the team’s ninth bid for the state championship. Yang seamlessly blends a portrait of the Dragons with the international history of basketball while also tying in his own career arc as a graphic novelist as he tries to balance family, teaching, and comics. Some panels directly address the creative process, such as those depicting an interaction between Yang and a Punjabi student regarding the way small visual details cue ethnicity in different ways. This creative combination of memoir and reportage elicits questions of storytelling, memory, and creative liberty as well as addressing issues of equity and race. The full-color illustrations are varied in layout, effectively conveying intense emotion and heart-stopping action on the court. Yang is Chinese American, Richie is black, and there is significant diversity among the team members.

A winner. (notes, bibliography) (Graphic nonfiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-079-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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THE MAGIC MAKER

A longtime collaborator provides an appealing portrayal of John Meredith Langstaff (1920–2005), the talented and passionate musician, charismatic performer and tireless researcher who created the combination of song, dance and drama known as The Revels.

The first Christmas Revels in Cambridge, Mass., in 1971, was an entertainment with medieval roots and a winter solstice theme grown from Langstaff’s interests in folk music and traditional dance. With his daughter Carol and other associates, he went on to develop community and seasonal celebrations of many different traditions and subjects. In nine more cities, from New England to the Puget Sound, professional and amateur musicians, children and adults, joined to offer annual performances combining mythic elements, ritual and enthusiastic audience participation. Cooper (Victory, 2006, etc.), the Newbery-winning author of The Dark Is Rising series, was a partner in many of Langstaff’s projects. Describing herself as “John's tame writer for fifteen years,” she explains that, late in life, he asked her to help him write a personal history going back to his choirboy childhood. Unfortunately, Langstaff died before they could complete their joint effort. For this “posthumous present to a friend,” she has interviewed colleagues and scoured her subject’s papers to produce a short, gracious and highly readable story of a man and an institution. Beginning with his early years in a family whose annual Christmas carol parties began before he was born, she covers his musical education, service and combat wound in World War II, teaching, performing and process of turning folksongs into children’s books. The second half of her narrative is a history of the Revels. This is a selective rather than exhaustive account, with well-chosen examples and quotations that convey the breadth and appeal of an extraordinary man. A loving remembrance and a special gift for all who have encountered Langstaff and his performances.

 

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5040-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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