FICTION

Feel the Beat: Dance Poems That Zing from Salsa to Swing

illus. by Kristi Valiant. 32p. w/CD. Dial. Mar. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803740211.
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K-Gr 3—Poetry master Singer is back with another unique picture book poetry collection, this time focusing on different styles of dance, from the cha-cha to the bhangra, and the square dance to the samba. The poems are all narrated by different characters, mostly children, participating in or observing a dance style. The language and rhythm are precise, and each selection is written to the beat of that dance style without a single misstep. The text simply begs to be read aloud. The poems are told from the perspectives of those nervous to dance, those amazed by a dancer's agility and grace, and those downright disgusted with a gym class requirement: "I'm flunking out of square dance!" Valiant's visuals are superb. Most pages contain full, vividly colored spreads with overlaid text. The dancers are illustrated with joy, in a playful style reminiscent of that of Vanessa Brantley-Newton, from the conga flash mob at the mall to the bird's-eye view of the concentric circles of the hora. The characters' expressions are full of life, and there is diversity of race and age reflected on every page. The book closes with short and understandable explanations of each dance and its rhythm. A CD is also included.
VERDICT An absolute delight to read, these poems will have children and adults moving to the beat. A charming addition to poetry and music collections.

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