Friday, November 29, 2013

30 Days of Picture Books - Giant Dance Party by Betsy Bird

It's Day 21 in our 30 Days of Picture Books. What's that you say? Yesterday was actually Day 21 but I didn't share a post? Very astute -- well, that dreaded Thanksgiving turkey coma took over and I wasn't alert enough to post a new book last night. And that's all we're going to say about that. . . .

Anyhoo, it's no matter because you'll still get the benefit of yesterday's pick one day late. And what a pick it is, exuberant and colorful -- just take a peek at that cover and tell me you aren't excited about this one right from the get-go! Betsy Bird's Giant Dance Party is terrific in lots of ways, and that's not surprising since Bird herself is a children's librarian and author of the popular kidlit blog Fuse #8. The woman knows her kidlit, and because she knows what kids like, this one's a slam-dunk. But don't worry, it's not that kind of kid-fave that's also an adult nightmare. Giant Dance Party is read-aloud friendly and funny, with a message wrapped so deep it'll sneak by the kiddos without them even catching on.

Lexy lives to dance, but she's decided to quit. Her parents know why, and it's not even hard to understand - recitals. Who likes those anyway? Not Lexy, because once the lights go on she freezes up solid ("blammo! Ice pop.") But she finds she misses her favorite pastime, so she decides to become a dance teacher instead. It takes a little while, but at last Lexy has clients -- blue, furry, gigantic clients, to be exact. And giants aren't exactly known for their gracefulness. Still, Lexy's persuaded to teach them, and all goes fine until the night of the Giant Dance Recital, where the students turn into giant blue furry ice pops. Uh-oh! How will Lexy salvage the big event?

Brandon Dorman did the illustrations for Giant Dance Party and it has to be said that this is a big part of the book's charm. The giants are in no way intimidating, more like big fuzzy kids themselves, which of course makes their predicament all the more relatable. And Lexy herself is spunky and lively, the kind of girl who doesn't wait around for a solution to her problems but figures out how to work through it all on her own. My one disappointment would just be that I'd wish for more diversity here. But perhaps we'll get that with Bird's next go-around? One can hope, anyway!

When your kiddo's struggling with a fear that seems insurmountable, reach for Giant Dance Party. With humor, spirit and a whole lot of grace, this title shows young ones how to reach for the stars!

Giant Dance Party by Betsy Bird, published by Greenwillow Books

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