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SPARKS FLY HIGH by Mary Quattlebaum Kirkus Star


The Legend of Dancing Point

by Mary Quattlebaum & illustrated by Leonid Gore

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 2006
ISBN: 0-374-34452-3
Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Tales of outsmarting the Devil are common; what sets this one apart is that it’s rooted in a real place and is sparked by acrylic and pastel illustrations. Colonel Lightfoot is born with quicksilver feet and his dancing dexterity grows along with him. His other love is his Virginia land that stretches green along the James River, except for one strange, marshy point where rumors claim the Devil dances. One evening, as Colonel Lightfoot sets out for a ball, the Devil’s sparks ruin his fine dancing clothes, and he vows to rid his land of the brazen demon. When the Devil challenges him to dance for it, the colonel is confident he will win—until hours go by. Exhausted, the colonel taunts the Devil to leap higher and spin faster, finally tricking him into oblivion. American folk art inspires Gore’s depiction of colonial times with feathery backgrounds, pointy-chin-and-nosed people and gossamer overlays on fabric. Clad in a vest with lacey fichu and purple pants, the cloven-footed, leering Devil with pointy beard, curled mustache and donkey ears, exudes heat. Bursting with sizzle, this version is devilishly crafty. (author’s note) (Folktale. 6-9)