Mindy is scared about performing at her jazz dance recital, despite the encouraging words of her three great aunties: ""Whatever happens, just keep dancing."" Unconvinced, Mindy shuts herself in her bedroom, until a talking drum appears at her window and leads her to the ""Home of Happy Feet""-""way beneath the sidewalk"" and back in time to the Savoy Ballroom, the legendary integrated Harlem dancehall. There she sees energetic dancers doing the lindy hop to the swing music of jazz greats Chick Webb and Benny Goodman. Mindy is so thrilled that she finds the courage to perform her own jazz dance for an appreciative Savoy audience. After she suddenly finds herself back in her room, she tells her aunties that she's ""ready and not afraid""-although her aunties now bear a striking resemblance to the Savoy dancers. Fine artist Yarde, making his children's book debut, uses an innovative watercolor style, creating patchwork squares for both the muted backgrounds and the dancers' brightly colored clothes; his approach helps to bridge the connection between past and present cultural traditions. Foregrounding the characters in this way will likely capture readers' attention and may well lead the way to a discussion about music, dance and other cultural issues. But the lack of close-ups throughout much of the book inhibits any sense of real connection with the characters, and the wordiness of the text may put off some readers. Ages 5-up.
Reviewed on: 09/04/2006 Release date: 09/01/2006 Genre: Children's