FLYING FEET: A Story of Irish Dance

Dees McCloskey, Author, Anna Marlis Burgard, Author, Leighanne Dees, Illustrator , illus. by Leighanne Dees. Chronicle $15.95 (36p) ISBN 978-0-8118-4431-4

Multitudes of fans wild for the stage show Riverdance and its ilk testify to the popularity of Irish dance as a mesmerizing, crowd-pleasing art form. Burgard transports readers to the Emerald Isle of old in this picture-book look at some of the dance's beloved traditions. Two dancing champions, Aidan and Michael, arrive in the town of Ballyconneely on the same day, both determined to be the town's chief dance instructor, following a time-honored custom. But since there can be only one instructor, the villagers do the only logical thing: they hold a dance-off. With pulsating music and dance steps that become increasingly difficult with each round, the men attempt to outdo each other with high-flying flair. In the end, one dancer's daring and flamboyant acrobatics (as shown in a vertical gatefold) make him the clear winner. Burgard sets the scene for drama and gets the details right—the names of the songs, the tense atmosphere and the wooden half-door used as a dance platform (even a sprinkling of Gaelic, defined in a closing glossary, and an author's note explaining the endurance of Irish dance). Unfortunately, the tale can't quite convey the liveliness of sound and motion that makes this subject matter so appealing. In her children's book debut, Dees's pastel and pencil artwork utilizes a series of curly wisps and swirls of wind meant to suggest movement, but she ultimately does not achieve an energetic dance-like lift. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/14/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
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