Saturday, August 27, 2011

Board Books Use Animals to Inspire Movement

Read It. Move It. Share It. 
This month I mixed it up a little. I recommended not one but TWO books for independent dance educator Maria Hanley to incorporate into her creative movement classes in New York City. After reading this post to learn more about the books, head over to Maria's blog to see how she used them in her classes. And thanks to publisher Blue Apple Books for supplying review copies of both books!

When I saw the new board books SWING! Like a Monkey and WIGGLE! Like an Octopus, I knew right away that I wanted to highlight them on my blog. Because many dance educators use animals to inspire movement in their classes, I thought the books would be perfect tools to assist them.

SWING! focuses on zoo animals and WIGGLE! on ocean animals, and both are filled with movement words that even the youngest dancers will probably know. Prance like a lion, anyone? Gallop like a zebra? Or, since it's still summer here in the states and some other parts of the world, maybe you would prefer to swim like a dolphin? Or waddle like a penguin? Author Harriet Ziefert includes lots of phrases like these throughout the 12 pages and about 100 words of text in each of the two books.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed that the meter of the rhyme is not always as smooth as I would have liked, and some of the couplets don't rhyme perfectly. But, nonetheless, I think the books would be great to use in a class of young dancers...probably best for two-year-olds and three-year-olds I would say.

The illustrations by Simms Taback (who by the way has won a Caldecott Medal and a Caldecott Honor for previous works) are simple and youthful as well. All of the animals are drawn with thick black lines filled in with solid colors. The backgrounds of the book, too, are incredibly simple. In some ways, the illustrations remind me of the pages of a coloring book. Even the colors that Taback uses are typical colors you would find in a big box of crayons.

And finally, I love that the covers of the books actually "move" when you tilt them. You can probably tell from the cover images in this post that the monkey really swings and the octopus really wiggles its arms. What toddler or preschooler wouldn't want to explore a book like that, especially in a dance class! Let's see how Maria and her students explored the book here.


  1. Two books! What a treat! As always, I am amazed by how you seamlessly integrate your picturebook reviews with dance. I have just recently met a dance teacher from New Zealand who visited Singapore for an arts research, and I was kind of reminded of you and what you do. ;-)

  2. Thanks, Myra. That's sweet :) I actually hope to make it to Singapore one of these days, too. My husband has been twice and loves it!


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