cover image DANCE!


Elisha Cooper, . . HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-029418-2

Cooper (Ballpark; Country Fair) again simply and effectively zeroes in on a pastime to which youngsters are likely to be favorably disposed. Here he ushers readers into the studio of a dance company, where a choreographer teaches a new dance to the troupe members. They diligently "rehearse until their arms and legs remember the steps." As Cooper chronicles the painstaking process of preparing for a performance, the spontaneous, lyrical narrative makes each scene easy to visualize (e.g., "The dancers play with the music, reaching out as if to catch the notes as they rise and fall around the studio"). He portrays the dancers, constantly in motion, as diminutive, abstract shapes in spare yet energetic watercolor and pencil art. The book's inventive design features cleverly configured type that intermittently mimics the dancers' movements as it gracefully winds and bends across the pages. The tale ends just as the curtain goes up on opening night, emphasizing the meticulous rehearsal process rather than the performance. Cooper's illuminating depiction of the many steps leading up to the grand event are deserving of enthusiastic applause. Ages 4-up. (Aug.)