Sunday, August 7, 2011

Celebration and Surprise in Lola's Fandango

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of my blog, and I'm so happy to have made it to this important milestone. Keeping up with the blog has been difficult at times, but it looks like Picture Books & Pirouettes is here to stay! 

To celebrate, I'm featuring a lovely picture book to be published by Barefoot Books in October 2011. It's called Lola's Fandango, written by Anna Witte and illustrated by Micha Archer. It has quite a celebratory cover, don't you think? Many thanks go out to Barefoot Books for sending me an advance review copy of the book.

Lola's Fandango is a story about a little girl named Lola who is jealous of her older sister Clementina--of how pretty her name is, how long and beautiful her hair is, how talented she is at painting. Feeling sad and alone, Lola seeks refuge in her parents' closet, where she finds a stack of old boxes. 

Inside one of the boxes is a pair of black shoes with high heels and little red polka dots. Lola soon finds out from her father (Papi) that her mother (Mami) used to be a very good flamenco dancer. Papi shows Lola an old photograph of Mami wearing the shoes and wearing a special dress with ruffles and polka dots. He also promises to secretly teach Lola how to dance a traditional flamenco dance called the fandango.

First, Papi teaches Lola the rhythm of the dance. Then how to stomp her feet. And finally, how to move her arms and hands. Lola practices all year long, gaining confidence and developing the spirit and attitude needed to be a great flamenco dancer.

She snaps her fingers: Snap! Snap!
Spring carries flower petals through the air.
She taps her heels: Tap! Tap!
Summer clouds dot the blue sky.
She whirls her skirt: Swish!
Fall blows leaves and raindrops across the roof.
She stomps her feet: Toca toca TICA!

Even though this is a "quiet" book in some ways, it is also full of sounds that make it great for reading aloud. The cars go honk hooonk outside Lola's window. Lola's dancing shoes go toca toca tica on the floor. And the unseen neighbor downstairs pounds BAM! BAM! BAM! against his ceiling when Lola's practicing makes too much noise. 

My two favorite parts to read aloud are the repeating toca toca tica of Lola's dance shoes and the repeating rhythm of the dance: 1-2-3  4-5-6  7-8  9-10  11-12. The book also comes with a narrated version of the story, which is very handy if you aren't quite sure how to count out the fandango rhythm. The CD, which is narrated by the Amador family of the Pan-Latin musical and singing ensemble Sol y Canto, also includes some flamenco music and real foot stomping in the background.

The book's vibrant illustrations beautifully capture the movement and emotion in the story, and they somehow mesh reality and whimsy together into a style that really works. I also love the layout and creative use of space in the book. Elements of illustrated pages sometimes find their way onto otherwise empty pages of text, forming designs around the words or just floating freely amidst the white spaces. Much care seems to have been taken to give each full-page spread a unique design, giving the book a great deal of visual appeal.

Toward the end of the book, Papi, Lola, and Clementina plan a surprise birthday party for Mami, and Lola decides she wants to surprise Mami with a flamenco dance at the party. However, she is feeling insecure because she doesn't have a fancy flamenco dress like Mami used to have. Lola's father reassures her that she has the courage to dance without the dress, and Lola finds the strength to carry on and to finally have her own special moment in the spotlight.

But, just before Lola is about to actually dance, Papi gives her a surprise gift--her very own ruffled polka-dot dress (he must have read her mind!) and a new pair of dancing shoes. In the spirit of surprises, I have a gift to give away to one lucky reader of my blog, too!

Thanks to the generosity of Barefoot Books, you will soon be able to enter to win either a copy of Lola's Fandango or one of three additional Barefoot Books related to dance. Once I get the giveaway details ready later this month, I'll post them here and let everyone know on Picture Books & Pirouettes' new Facebook page. Stay tuned!

Update: Since I wrote this post, Barefoot Books has published a Q&A with author Anna Witte and illustrator Micha Archer. You can check out that blog post here.


  1. Another adorable read! Oh how you make me wish I had a young girl in my life to share these books (and a passion for dance) with. My boys just don't get it.

  2. Awww. Maybe one day those boys of yours will have some little girls for you to share them with :) There are some "boy" dance books out there, though, so maybe I can find one to write about soon...

  3. Thank you for the great review Kerry, I am glad you liked the book!

  4. Hi, Micha. Thanks so much for dropping by. It really is a beautiful book. Congratulations!

  5. Oh wow, another beautiful review from you!! Such a pleasure to visit you for Book Talk Tuesday - I really love the way that you entice your readers into knowing more about the book. Nicely done. Thanks for sharing this one. I have a feeling I would love Lola. =)

  6. Hi, Myra. That's so sweet of you. Thank you! I hope you'll stop by later in the month for a chance to win a copy of Lola. I'll probably run the giveaway for a few weeks :)

  7. Hi! I'd love to read this book. I'm from Spain, but I have never heard of any book about this subject for kids, I'm intrigued :)
    Best regards from Barcelona,


  8. Hi, Marta. Thanks for leaving a comment, and for entering the giveaway. I reviewed another flamenco book a while ago. It's nonfiction, for perhaps a slightly older child, and is called Ole Flamenco. It's really great, in case you want to check it out!

  9. I have just send your review over to my facebook page Kinder Books for my fans/customers to read. Thank you!!
    A happy Barefoot Ambassador - Anne

  10. Hi, Anne. Oh, thanks so much! I'm glad you liked the review. I've always loved Barefoot Books and especially like this one!

  11. I am so thrilled about your kind review! Keep on dancing, everybody! Asi se baila!! Anna Witte

  12. I'm so happy you enjoyed the review, Anna. And I really appreciate you stopping by. Your art is amazing, and I look forward to seeing what you do next. Happy dancing...and illustrating!

  13. One of my favorite books to read aloud! 1-2-3 4-5-6 7-8 9-10 11-12! I find both BOYS and girls enjoy listening to the story despite the girl-centric theme.

    1. I love so many Barefoot Books, but Lola's Fandango is one of my favorites. It's good to hear that you've found boys to enjoy it, too. Thanks so much for stopping by!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...