Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Book: The Barefoot Book of Dance Stories

The Barefoot Book of Dance Stories (Barefoot Books)

The Barefoot Book of Dance Stories (Barefoot Books) by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple was released in September. It's a companion book to their The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories.  I was quite obsessed with ballet and dance in my youth and these books would have been on my wish lists.  These days I still love dance of all forms and my fascination with the folklore behind so much of it doubles my interest. 

First, here's the official description from the publisher:

Say it with dance! This gorgeous collection will enchant young dancers with stories from eight cultures, including the Polka in the Czech Republic, Limbo in the West Indies and the Waltz in Germany. Book with CD editions include stories read by actress Juliet Stevenson (Truly Madly Deeply and Emma). Ages 8 and up.

This title should be a hit with dance lovers, especially since it offers introductory materials to other dance styles not usually found in children's books and ties them to stories from their respective cultures. The book essentially offers four different areas of information for readers. First, the table of contents is explanded with short introductions to the tales and the dances.  Here's the table of contents without the glosses.

1. Waltz / Germany / Twelve Dancing Princessses
2. Noh Dancing / Japan / Robe of Feathers
3. Limbo / St. Vincent, West Indies / Making the Stone Smoke
4. Flamenco / Spain / The Shepherd's Flute
5. Polka / Czech Republic / Dancing with the Birch Fairy
6. Belly Dancing / Egypt / When the Goddess Danced
7. Scottish Reels / Scotland / Tam O'Shanter
8. Malian Dance / Mali / The Little Bird Who Went Dancing

Then the tales are presented with beautiful illustrations, all retold by Yolen and Stemple.

Next there are Notes on the Dances with brief information about the dance, the usual costumes and the dance steps. There are no dancing diagrams (such as footwork patterns) just descriptions of the movement.

Finally, a bibliography is offered with a minimum of eight sources for each tale and accompanying dance. (Full disclosure: SurLaLune is listed as a resource for Twelve Dancing Princesses.)

In addition to the book, there is the CD of the tales read by Juliet Stevenson, which is a nice bonus for anyone, but especially nice for young dance lovers not quite up to the 8 and up reading level of the book.

Overall, highly recommended for dance and folklore lovers, young or old. Jane and her daughter Heidi always retell the stories beautifully, presenting them to a modern audience. The illustrations are lovely and the bonus CD provides additional ways to enjoy the content.

The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories

The Barefoot Book of Dance Stories was sent to me for review.

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