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)