Wednesday, December 11, 2013
REVIEW: Giant Dance Party by Betsy Bird, Illustrated by Brandon Dorman
Genre: Picture Book/Humor/Fantasy
Audience: Preschool–Grade 2
Summary: Six-year-old Lexy loves dancing. But every time she tries to perform in front of a crowd, she freezes completely. So she decides to quit and become a teacher. Unfortunately, no one wants to learn from a kid—until a group of fuzzy blue giants turn up at her door looking for dance lessons.
First Line: "One day Lexy decided that when it came to dancing, she was done."
This highly enjoyable story comes from a well-known children's librarian and blogger, and it's clear she knows her stuff. Bird's action-packed language and Dorman's energetic artwork fairly leap off the page, creating a fantastic read aloud. Vivid, full-color digital art and a likeable, exuberant protagonist will capture the attention of readers, and the humorous text and story will hold it. I was charmed when Lexy refers to herself as an "ice pop" after freezing onstage (anyone want to guess how the giants are described when they too suffer from stage fright?), and laughed out loud when the giants practiced a wide variety of dances, from the chicken dance to krumping. The story nicely weaves together a tale of realistic fears with fantasy elements, and the result is a fun, engaging read that makes Lexy's eventual triumph less pointedly didactic than many other picture books dealing with childhood fears. Even better, the final page leaves room for a follow up title—or so I hope.