Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rupert Can Dance by Jules Feiffer

Rupert Can Dance by Jules Feiffer

Rating: 5 stars

I have a magnet on my refrigerator with the suggestion "Dance like nobody's watching!" I think Rupert would appreciate that. But check out the picture on my blogger profile--clearly I don't care if anyone is watching, I'll still bust a move how I please...

Rupert is a cat belonging to Mandy. Mandy is a dancer extraordinaire--there's nothing Rupert likes more than to watch Mandy dance. Well, there might be one thing he likes more, and that happens the moment Mandy falls asleep each evening.  Rupert grabs her dancing shoes and dances the night away!

Dancing is his secret. It is the last thing he wanted Mandy to find out.

But one night, she does. She wakes up unexpectedly and saw him.  She is overjoyed; he is horrified. She wants to teach him how to dance, whereas he loves the freedom of doing his moves however he wants. So he stops dancing (much to both of their disappointment). For him, the joy was taken out of it once he was discovered. For her, she could not share the thing she loved the best with the cat she loved the most.
They could have gone on this way for years.
And in fact, they did.

Sad times indeed.

Then one day not too far after, Mandy acts dumb, and asks for his help in some dance steps. Rupert falls for this old trick and, happy to be needed as an expert, teaches her what she wants. She gets him dancing again, and they happily dance together ever after--taking turns leading.

The messy sketches of Jules Feiffer might not be my first choice of illustrations, but they capture the movement--and the joy in the movement--of these two characters really well. As for the moral of the story, all kids sure do need it. Dance like nobody's watching should be tattooed (hmm...children tattooed? some of you might object to that) on the inside of their foreheads before they start wilting from self-consciousness in middle school. Here's to hoping that yours and mine will remember their dance moves despite their peers' gaze.

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