Monday, April 18, 2016

Get Ready for a Dinosaur Dance!


My family and I are vacationing in Japan right now. It's our last day in Tokyo, and we've decided to chill out in the hotel for a little while before heading out into the city one more time. I've been working on some children's writing during our trip, and as only a children's writer might say, I've had dancing and dinosaurs on my mind this morning. Then lo and behold, I discovered this new board book -- Dinosaur Dance! -- by Sandra Boynton!

I've loved Sandra Boynton since my kids were little. They're 9 and 11 now, so we don't read too many board books these days. But Boynton's books bring back such great memories for me, and I still buy them as presents for friends who have babies and toddlers.


Dinosaur Dance isn't coming out until August, so I can't give it a proper review just yet. But, somehow, I am fully confident I will love it. Just wanted to let you know about it, too!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My Favorite Collaboration Is Back!

Read It. Move It. Share It. 
I can't believe it's been two years since Maria Hanley from Maria's Movers and I took a break from "Read It. Move It. Share It." But we're back! We probably won't be posting every month but hope to collaborate at least a few more times this year. It feels so good to be back! To remind you about our collaboration, I choose picture books for Maria to use in her creative movement classes in New York City, and then we both share our experiences with the books. This month's book is Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site!


Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site was published a few years back by debut author Sherri Duskey Rinker and seasoned illustrator Tom Lichtenheld. It quickly rocketed to the top of the New York Times Bestseller List, and for good reason. It's clever, adorable in its words and pictures, and appealing both to children who love trucks and to parents -- and dance teachers! -- who might be anxious to settle their little ones down after a long day at school or play.

The book starts out showing a variety of different trucks working hard until the sun begins to set. It then quickly focuses in on each type of truck and what it has to do to finish its work for the day and get ready for bed. It's written in rhyme, with each truck getting a short introduction, a stanza about what kind of work the truck does, and a stanza to say goodnight.

The first truck in the book, the crane truck, works "hard to help his team" by raising "one last beam." He also reaches, stretches, lifts high, and swings his beam. Only then can he get ready for bed...

He slowly folds his boom back in, 
And then with one last sleepy grin, 
He tucks himself in nice and tight (sigh!),
Then cuddles up and says goodnight.

Shh...goodnight, Crane Truck, goodnight.

This pattern is repeated for a cement mixer, a dump truck, a bulldozer, and an excavator. And as you might imagine, there are fabulous movement words everywhere in the book! There's spinning, churning, lifting, carrying, spilling, and so much more.

As the book comes to a close, the trucks are together again...although they are all sleeping this time. One of my favorite stanzas happens as the book winds down. I love the messages that it sends to young children, who are probably identifying strongly with the trucks by the end of the book. Work hard. Be proud of your work. And make sure your work is fun! Great lessons to carry into adulthood as well...

These big, big trucks, so tough and loud,
They work so hard, so rough, so proud.
Tomorrow is another day, 
Another chance to work and play.

I can't finish this post without also mentioning the brilliant illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld that really bring this book to life. He personifies the trucks so well, giving them great facial expressions whether they are working, playing, feeling sleepy, or snuggling into bed. So sweet.

I can't wait to find out how Maria used the book in her classes. Let's go see here.

You can also click here to read an interview with author Sherri Duskey Rinker and learn more about her inspiring road to publication. And if you like what you've heard and seen so far, check out the second picture book by the amazing team of Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld -- Steam Train, Dream Train!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year!

Wishing you and your loved ones all the best in the new year. I have a feeling it's going to be a good one. Happy reading and dancing!


Monday, November 9, 2015

Bear Can Dance -- and Why You Should, Too!


I was browsing through posts on Facebook this morning and read this wonderful quote by a dancer from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater...

I wish more people knew what it felt like to actually dance. I'm not referring to the difficulty of learning a technique or a combination. I mean the part that comes after everything clicks. When your most focused mind, your most moldable body, and your truest spirit all intertwine at their highest level. That point will look different for everyone, of course, but I wish everyone could attempt to reach it at least once. It can literally feel like flying.  -- Ailey dancer Fana Tesfagiorgis to the NYC Dance Project

I let this quote seep into my soul, "liked" it, and went on with my day. Little did I know it would creep back into my head later in the day when I was reading the new picture book Bear Can Dance! by Suzanne Bloom.

Bear Can Dance! is the seventh in a series of books by Bloom about Bear and his friend Goose. In this book, Bear wishes he could fly! Another character, Fox, comes up with a few clever ideas to help Bear, but none of them work very well. Goose isn't much help, either, insisting that Bear cannot fly. Or can he?

Bear can dance?
It's like flying, but with your feet on the ground. Mostly. 
Ohhhh. Bear can dance!

The only reason Bear wanted to fly was because he wanted to "swoop and glide and feel the wind" in his fur. Flying can do that, but so can dancing! After reading the book, I frantically searched Facebook until I found the quote from Fana Tesfagiorgis again, only realizing then how truly magical it was for today.

I love it when fate steps in to bring people, objects, ideas together. In this case it brought together a beautiful quote from Fana Tesfagiorgis, a beautiful book by Suzanne Bloom, and me!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Nutcracker Season Is Here!

It's only September, but ballet schools across the country are already holding auditions for the holiday favorite The Nutcracker. I finally convinced my 8-year-old and 10-year-old daughters to try out for a local production this year. Luckily, as with many recreational ballet schools, this one tries to cast everyone who auditions. The girls auditioned last Saturday, and we have just a few days left before we find out their parts!

While we're waiting, I thought I would do a little research to see what Nutcracker-themed picture books have just been published or will be coming out soon. As I expected, I found quite a few! Here are the four I'm most looking forward to reading...

Written in verse by Kristyn Crow with illustrations by Molly Idle, Zombelina Dances The Nutcracker is a follow-up to Zombelina, which introduced readers to a young Zombie who loves to dance. In the new book, Zombelina and her friend Lizzie need to figure out how to save The Nutcracker production they're supposed to dance in at the local opera house.

Rachel Isadora's Bea in The Nutcracker is another sequel -- to Bea at Ballet. The first book was a concept book, introducing young children to the components of a ballet class. Bea in The Nutcracker breaks down the components of a classical ballet, using The Nutcracker as an example.

I don't know too much about this version of The Nutcracker by Stephanie Spinner and Peter Malone, except that it comes with a CD of the Tchaikovsky score. But the cover really draws me in, and I'd love to see more of the illustrations!

The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition also piqued my interested. Written by Chris Barton with illustrations by Cathy Gendron, this book tells the story of how The Nutcracker, which is a Russian ballet, became such a special tradition in the United States.

A few years ago I wrote a post on the blog Dance Advantage about some of my favorite Nutcracker books at that time. You can read the post here, in case you are looking for more dance books this holiday season.

Do you have a favorite Nutcracker picture book? Or do any of the new ones look interesting to you? I'd love to hear!
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