cover image The Story Dance

The Story Dance

Element Books Ltd, Barbara Satterfield. Fairview Press, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-57749-022-7

A debut author and illustrator pay tribute to family heirlooms and the stories they can tell. For the first time, Nana allows her eight-year-old granddaughter to handle the embroidered shawl from her locked cabinet of family heirlooms. Thrilled, the girl first holds the shawl, then wears it, then--wheedling a little for each new privilege--dances as her grandmother tells how it was a gift to Nana from her sister Emmadelle, a researcher of folk dances. The shawl was worn by Gypsy flamenco dancers, who ""moved like a summer storm coming and going--hot sunlight and wind, slow thunder, quick lightning."" Gregory's oil paintings of dancing include vibrant purples, greens and oranges, and strong, interpretive compositions, but the more domestic scenes with the heirlooms are frustratingly soft-focus. Borders of pictures, buttons, old letters tied with ribbons and other sentimental artifacts surround the text. The fussy, protective grandmother's ""my, my"" gets a little stale, but the book successfully suggests the dramatic life stories harbored within such musty treasures. All ages. (May)