Hickman introduces Roscoe Alfonso Leonidas Washington III and his multigenerational family of salsa dancers in the third book of a series, amusingly illustrated by Rousseau.
Young Roscoe isn’t particularly interested in salsa dancing. His grandparents salsa dance. His parents salsa dance. And despite how much they love dancing, when they ask Roscoe if he wants to learn to salsa dance, “it reminds me of the times my mom told me to eat my peas.” But as they keep giving him advice, he decides he’d rather learn to dance than disappoint his family. Roscoe starts dancing everywhere—in his room, on the football field, in front of the mirror—until he can really imagine himself as a salsa dancer. But despite his growing comfort, he still has to learn. Luckily, his friend Sara has a plan: They’ll take the 60-minute salsa dancing class together. “This is absurd, ridiculous learning how to salsa dance in 60 minutes,” Roscoe says, but Sara is convinced they should give it a try. In the remainder of the oversized picture book—alternating between sometimes-lengthy text and cartoonish full-color illustrations depicting Roscoe’s facial expressions and family members in hilarious detail—Roscoe and Sara go through instructions on how to salsa. While the book wouldn’t actually teach anyone to dance, it’s believable that Roscoe and Sara are able to pick up the basics in a one-hour lesson, which gives Roscoe the confidence he needs to dance in a competition with his family. The cast in the illustrations is wonderfully diverse, and salsa dancing is never presented as something that’s strange for a boy to learn, which might encourage young male readers to branch out into a new athletic activity. The text sometimes has a stilted flow, and the dialogue doesn’t always ring true, but Roscoe’s journey from disinterest to dancing champ is believable, and the illustrations help make him a sympathetic hero.
A long picture book for grade school readers with appealing illustrations, a diverse cast and a solid introduction to salsa.