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DANCE! by Elisha Cooper


by Elisha Cooper & illustrated by Elisha Cooper

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-06-029418-3
Publisher: Greenwillow

The essence of dance is the movement and the music, both difficult to capture in writing, especially so in a work for young children. Cooper (Henry, not reviewed, etc.) describes all the players and the hard work required to prepare a modern dance piece for performance, from the company dancers entering the rehearsal studio to the curtain going up on opening night. His text adequately describes each step of the complex rehearsal timeline in a spare, often humorous style, although he sometimes gets carried away with flights of fancy that simply don’t work: dancers floating above the piano as symbolic musical notes and the dancers’ shadows taking on a life of their own will leave many children puzzled. Cooper’s watercolor-and-pencil illustrations are in a muted palette, with loose, stylized dancers usually shown in miniature, without faces. He includes extremely tiny, handwritten labels in many of the illustrations that are nearly impossible to read, and several pages have the text set in nonconventional ways (wrapping around in swirls, a circle, or a square), which convey motion but also make the reader work harder. Children who are seriously studying dance might be interested in learning about the professional rehearsal process (which mirrors their own), but this is unlikely to find a wide audience. (Picture book. 5-9)