cover image Aunt Elaine Does the Dance from Spain

Aunt Elaine Does the Dance from Spain

Leah Komaiko. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30674-4

An eccentric relative introduces her young niece to the creative worlds of dance and theatre in this peppy picture book. Before her Spanish dance performance, Aunt Elaine brings Katy backstage, where the girl watches her aunt--who ``thinks she's from Spain / But she and dad were born in Maine''--transform herself into Elena. In all the excitement, Katy gets comically tangled in a jumble of hanging costumes and misses most of the show, only to appear onstage with the company for an encore. Komaiko's ( Annie Bananie ; Earl's Too Cool for Me ) frenetic verses, though funny, occasionally strain for effect. Their suitably relentless flamenco pace is enhanced by intermittent Spanish words and phrases, explained in a glossary at the front of the book. Mathers's ( Sophie and Lou ; Little Love Song ) characteristically bold, zany watercolor and pencil illustrations adroitly expand on the action, portraying a troupe of colorful amigos and a hectic pre-performance atmosphere. A familial tenderness and understanding pervades the portraits featuring Elaine and Katy. Those readers with a kooky relative will call Ole! for this collaboration. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)