The community of Taloyoak, Nunavut, hosts an annual Christmas dance, and this year Simonie wants to compete.
Simonie loves to read, but he also loves to dance. When he reads a poster advertising an upcoming jigging dance contest, he asks his father for help; later, his mother offers more advice. Simonie practices his dance steps daily, but Ataata suggests that his son also add emotion to his performance: “You have to feel the movements in the music. They go together.” At school, he asks his friend Dana to partner with him, and together they practice, but though his dancing improves, Simonie still doesn’t understand how to feel the music. At the hockey arena, Simonie catches up with another friend, David, who has won competitions before and asks his advice. “I just dance the way the music feels,” says David. Aha! On the day of the contest, Anaana reminds her son, “Whatever’s in your heart, express it!” Simonie is ready to do his best. Matthews’ simple text presents a likable character in Simonie, and his determination to succeed should inspire young readers to persevere when learning any new skill. Hinch’s lively cartoon illustrations portray the Inuit characters as modern upper-elementary-age students who are also actively involved in their families’ cultural traditions.
The protagonist’s good cheer and determination will strike chords in like-minded readers. (Picture book. 5-8)