It’s a sad day in the kidlitosphere if the upholding of Poetry Friday falls to me. It seems like everyone else is on vacation, recovering from ALA, or just abstaining. But I’ve been holding onto this book for two weeks now and even though it is a picture book written as a poem rather than a poem itself or even a book of poetry, I’m going with it because I am the last one standing, as scary as that is.
My seven-year-old picked out Got to Dance by M.C. Helldorfer from the picture book section of our local library. This is remarkable because we rarely go to our local library, and I usually just pick out books from my branch that I think the kids will like. Since they get to pick out their own books weekly at the school library, I never felt they were particularly deprived. Sometimes they come to my branch, where they spend the whole time playing games on the children’s computer. So be it.
Anyway, my daughter picked this book out, and we read it that night. It is about a young girl home with her grandpa while her mom is at work and her brother is at camp. The girl has the summertime blues, but shakes them off with dancing. The whole book is done is free form verse, with some rhyming and some not. It is a wonderful tribute to the joys of summer when you are little and just happy. A sample:
Bare feet yow!
the burning hot street
makes me dance, dance.
Beneath the bus seats,
do a crosstown dance.
The illustrator, Hiroe Nakata, is one of my favorites with her soft yet vibrant watercolor illustrations. They fit perfectly with the happy, light text. The characters are African-American, but their ethnicity isn’t a factor in the storyline. This is a great summertime in the city book, and poetry at its best.