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DANCE Y’ALL by Bettye Stroud

DANCE Y’ALL

By Bettye Stroud (Author) , Cornelius Van Wright (Illustrator) , Ying-Hwa Hu (Illustrator)

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7614-5065-3
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Jack Henry is excited that his kinfolk are coming to celebrate the harvest, but he’s seen a coach-whip snake in the barn, where he and his cousin will be spending the night to make room for the company. He’s heard that a whip snake can beat a person with its tail, but he doesn’t want anyone to think he’s a scaredy-cat and he makes no mention of his fear. Throughout the evening, the snake is on his mind, causing him such uneasiness he eats little of the scrumptious dinner and doesn’t join the dancing festivities afterward. In the middle of the night, a clap of thunder and the sight of his cousin walking off the edge of the hayloft awaken Jack Henry. He scrambles for a blanket from the mule’s stall and manages to wake his cousin, then runs for help. When Grandpa Buddy comes to check, Jack Henry blurts out his fear of the snake. “You ever hear of anyone beaten to death by a snake?” asks Grandpa Buddy and tells him it’s just a tale. As he takes the blanket back to the stall, Jack Henry sees the snake and starts to run, but decides to take a stand and threatens the snake with a hoe. With that, the snake turns tail, disappears through a hole, and Jack Henry stops up the hole with a croaker sack. Having confronted his fear, he shouts, “Dance y’all!” just like his Grandpa Buddy did earlier in the evening, dancing a little jig in the barn. Watercolor illustration in shades of gold and blue is a consistent palette throughout the story, making the night scenes as bright as the day. The snake is a golden color and, although he has a threatening stance in one of the pictures, the color does not further enhance the fear. Jack Henry and his cousin appear to be eight-year-olds and the story is vaguely set in a past of long skirts and horse-drawn carriages. The African-American family and farm scenes are realistic and handsome although many of the pictures seem static. A quiet story useful for children dealing with fear. (Picture book. 6-8)