cover image The Last Dance

The Last Dance

Carmen Agra Deedy. Peachtree Publishers, $16.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-56145-109-8

Despite the precious life lessons knit into the story line (``Every human being has a right to three things: to dance... to sing... to tell stories''), Deedy's fluid prose and flair for imagery (""the moon sat full-bellied on the treetops"") turns a potentially trite story into a sweet, sentimental one. Childhood sweethearts Ninny and Bessie make a pact that when one of them dies, the other will come to the graveyard and dance on the grave. The story spans a lifetime, from the young couple's early moonlight dances at Ninny's grandfather's grave through marriage, a war and a last anniversary. In the end, Bessie fulfills her promise and saves the last dance for her beloved Ninny. Santini's impressionistic watercolors, rendered in muted shades of rose, smoke blue, and browns, effectively capture the bittersweet mood of the story. A note: although the subject may be more likely to appeal to beginning readers, the text-set in a decorative scriptface-is a visual stumbling block. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)