Excitement builds for a little girl and her Mami as they dance through the streets of their barrio to hear Papi play salsa on his trombone.
Mami sings the names of the Spanish instruments: the claves, bongos, cowbell, maracas, timbales and güiro as she taps out the “rhythm that makes us… / that makes us dance.” With red dresses on, they head for the park and along the way pass an assortment of neighbors and local folk working and sitting and directing traffic. Some wave to them or give them flowers for their hair or join the procession to the park, where Papi’s band is performing. He sings out an invitation to all: “¡A bailar, amigos! Let’s dance, friends!” Cofer, the author of well-respected novels for teens, has turned her hand to her first picture book in a pairing with a debut artist. The text is in English, with Spanish translations for the refrains. The results, all well-intentioned, are disappointing. The writing is repetitious without rhythm, while the full-page oil illustrations depict characters in awkward poses with faces that seem to be grimacing rather than smiling. No specific nationality or background for the family is given.
An earnest effort that unfortunately falls short. (Picture book. 3-6)