Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tessa's Tip-Tapping Toes Make Me Smile!

My two girls and I spent a few weeks with my mom in Florida this summer. After moving away from California a few years ago, I was more than happy to be back in a sunny place for a while. The girls had a wonderful time with their "Grammy" and "Gramps," swimming in the pool, touring the town, and making tons of fun arts and crafts. 

I wasn't quite as much fun as Grammy and Gramps, since I was traveling a bit for work and otherwise glued to the computer a good part of the time, but the girls and I did at least have some great times hanging out at bookstores and the local public library together. I was especially impressed by the local library, which had a huge room devoted to picture books AND had a fabulous selection. 

We found so many books worth writing about, but today I'm going to share my favorite dance book that we discovered. It's called Tessa's Tip-Tapping Toes, written by Carolyn Crimi and illustrated by Marsha Gray Carrington. I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before. It is such an adorable book!

Tessa had swinging arms, skipping feet, and tip-tapping toes. 
She was built to dance. 

You might not be able to tell from this excerpt (although you can probably tell from the book cover) that Tessa is actually a mouse. But she's not like all the other mice. She doesn't like to scurry and she doesn't like to hurry. She just likes to dance. Even when Tessa's family is supposed to be raiding Mrs. Timboni's kitchen at night, Tessa just can't stop dancing. And then Mrs. Timboni gets a cat...

Most cats liked dozing on windowsills or curling up on fresh piles of laundry. 
Not Oscar. He crooned on the kitchen counters, sang in the sinks, 
and trilled on the dining room table. 

Oscar's favorite thing in the world to do is to sing, but Mrs. Timboni is always trying to get him to keep his voice down so he won't disturb the neighbors. And then there's Tessa's mom, who's always trying to get Tessa to stop dancing, partly so she doesn't disturb Oscar. But no matter how hard Oscar and Tessa try, they can't keep their passions bundled up. They keep singing and singing, and dancing and dancing, until one day they actually bump into each other. Oops!

What comes next is not what you might expect when a mouse and cat meet for the first time, but then again we did establish that Tessa and Oscar aren't your usual animals, right? With a thunderstorm pounding its rhythm in the background, the two combine their passions and talents. Before long, there's a real party going on in the kitchen!

Tessa burst into an all-out rock-'n'-roll, boogie-woogie, hip-hop, two-step combo. 
Oscar watched, eyes wide. Finally he cleared his throat and belted out 
a rowdy, riotous tune just right for dancing feet.

The illustrations in this book are equally as charming as the text. Oscar is drawn quite large and Tessa is drawn quite small, so it makes for some neat perspectives in the artwork. Apparently author Carolyn Crimi loves the illustrations, too. You can read a little more about what she thinks of them, plus read about her inspiration for the book, here. It's kind of a cute and funny story. I've actually heard Carolyn speak at a writer's conference, and she is super funny in person, too.

Unfortunately, Tessa's Tip-Tapping Toes doesn't seem to be in print anymore, but there are some used copies floating around out there, and hopefully your local library will carry some copies, too. If you've ever been so passionate about something that you just can't help yourself from doing it--be it dancing, singing, writing, or anything else--then this book will probably make you smile. I know it made me smile, and I can't wait to read it again.


  1. sounds like such a great book! :)

  2. Thanks so much, Maria. I'm glad my enthusiasm about the book came through. I'm always sad when I see that a good book is out of print, but hopefully some readers will still be able to find it!

  3. Thank you for this, Kerry. Not that long ago, I took advantage of the book sales at Borders (which makes me sad), and purchased several picture books. Since then, they have been sitting on my shelf, behind my desk full of clutter.
    Today, I took a break from my all of my paperwork, my blog, and all of the clutter in my brain, and after reading this post, I picked up one of the picture books off the shelf. I held it in my hands, turned the pages, read the words, and soaked up the bright colored pictures. It made me smile and remember why I love picture books so much. Thank you for reminding me : )

  4. Hi, Leslie. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I, too, picked up a few picture books from Borders recently (and it made me sad, too). I never thought about it quite like this, but I guess picture books offer the same kind of escape that novels do, but they are much shorter (which is great for those of us deprived of time)...and they come with beautiful artwork. Hope you continue to enjoy your new books!

  5. I love love love this! A dancing mouse and a singing cat? Perfect (or purrrfect?)!

  6. Hi, Brooke. Your comment made me laugh out loud. "Purrrfect." I love it!

  7. Hi Kerry,

    I just discovered your blog and I love the way you've combined your passions for books and dance. I wonder if you'd like to receive a copy of my new picture book, Naughty Toes, which has just been published by Tiger Tales ( If you'd like to talk further, please contact me through my website link above. Thanks!

  8. This does sound like a delightful book. Wonder if libraries might have it.

  9. Hi, Jackie. Thanks for your comment. The library I visited in Florida had it, but my usual local library doesn't. I do hope it is out there in a lot of other places!


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