It’s wonderfully inclusive, but only Bowie’s biggest fans may feel like dancing.

LET'S DANCE

Dancers of various ages, races, abilities, and species groove to the abridged lyrics of iconic rocker Bowie’s titular 1983 hit.

“Let’s dance,” the author invites. And dance Marks’ joyful, cartoony figures do. A child and older adult jive to “the song they’re playin’ on” an old-fashioned radio; another child “sway[s] through” a playground crowd “to an empty space.” A dog and cat join paws/hands with a child in a hijab. Under “this serious moonlight,” a couple and a cat float in spacesuits. Two kids dance in manual wheelchairs; one is an amputee. After omitting much of the last verse, the ending urges, “Let’s dance, / DANCE, / DANCE.” Characters’ skin colors range from pale to dark. However, despite diverse characters and bright, textured digital illustrations, the song’s translation to picture book falls flat. Without the melody, the lyrics’ rhythm falters, and such lines as “If you should fall into my arms / And tremble like A FLOWER” ring awkward. Some illustrations seem incongruous with their lyrics, as when a double-page file of cheerleading kids wearing itty-bitty red sneakers illustrates “Put on your red shoes / And dance the blues.” Though adult fans will appreciate nods to Bowie’s eclectic style—lightning bolts pepper the pages, and a child’s shirt is reminiscent of his Union Jack–patterned coat—such touches will be lost on readers unfamiliar with Bowie’s oeuvre.

It’s wonderfully inclusive, but only Bowie’s biggest fans may feel like dancing. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6808-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited.

LET'S DANCE!

Dancing is one of the most universal elements of cultures the world over.

In onomatopoeic, rhyming text, Bolling encourages readers to dance in styles including folk dance, classical ballet, breakdancing, and line dancing. Read aloud, the zippy text will engage young children: “Tappity Tap / Fingers Snap,” reads the rhyme on the double-page spread for flamenco; “Jiggity-Jig / Zig-zag-zig” describes Irish step dancing. The ballet pages stereotypically include only children in dresses or tutus, but one of these dancers wears hijab. Overall, children included are racially diverse and vary in gender presentation. Diaz’s illustrations show her background in animated films; her active child dancers generally have the large-eyed sameness of cartoon characters. The endpapers, with shoes and musical instruments, could become a matching game with pages in the book. The dances depicted are described at the end, including kathak from India and kuku from Guinea, West Africa. Unfortunately, these explanations are quite rudimentary. Kathak dancers use their facial expressions extensively in addition to the “movements of their hands and their jingling feet,” as described in the book. Although today kuku is danced at all types of celebrations in several countries, it was once done after fishing, an activity acknowledged in the illustrations but not mentioned in the explanatory text.

The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-142-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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