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KNOCKIN’ ON WOOD by Lynne Barasch

KNOCKIN’ ON WOOD

By Lynne Barasch (Author) , Lynne Barasch (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: May 1st, 2004
ISBN: 1-58430-170-8
Publisher: Lee & Low

Little Clayton Bates loved to dance. “He had no shoes, so he danced barefoot. He had no music, so he made dance rhythms by clapping his hands and tapping his feet.” This down-home opening sets the stage for the remarkable career of Peg Leg Bates, a black vaudevillian who lost his leg in a cottonseed mill at the age of 12, but who went on to become one of the most accomplished dancers in show business. Line-and-watercolor illustrations depict a smiling Bates tapping his way from black-only audiences to the Ed Sullivan show, movies, and even a star turn for George VI, the text emphasizing how his love for dancing kept him going in the face of bigotry. It’s a very neat story, told briefly but effectively; the illustrations are full of movement and flair, though one might wish for more facial details to differentiate individuals. Where this offering truly fails, however, is in its utter lack of documentation; there’s not even an author’s note to fill in the gaps (though an excellent black-and-white photograph of Bates attests to his exuberance). A real pity. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-10)