Monday, October 6, 2014

Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif

Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif

Rating: 5 stars

Frances Dean was a little girl who loved to dance. "When no one was around, she would feel the wind and dance..." With the woods as her backdrop, the birds as her backup, and the geese and duck as her audience, she danced and danced and danced.

But when people were around, she stopped.  She felt their eyes on her, so she just stood still, waiting for them to pass. There were too many people and she stood for too long, so she forgot how to dance, and she forgot the joy she felt when dancing.

As she walked home, trying to figure out how to get her joyous dancing back, she stumbled across a little girl, much younger than she, singing a happy tune.  The girl saw Frances Dean, but had the courage to keep on singing, no matter whose eyes were on her. That night, Frances Dean thought of the little girl and how she kept singing, regardless of who or what was around her.

In the morning, Frances Dean woke up and, with a little help, remembered how much she loved to dance and dance. She practiced dancing in front of and with others.  She started small--with birds--then graduated--to a cat and dog--then, finally, with an old lady in the square. The little girl with the happy tune dance and sing together, being true to their own voice while also sharing their love with their world.

Stories like this--especially with whimsical, magical illustrations like those Sif produces --touch a special place in my heart right now, as Lorelei begins to navigate some of the "un-fun" aspects of girlhood in elementary school. The teasing isn't so bad right now, but it is teasing to keep her from being best friends with a boy (a gem of a child, I have to add), going to the barn she rides at now (the other girls go to a "better" barn), and stuff like that. We use the words, "What's the truth in your heart? Do you know what you really want to do?" She knows: be best friends with Garrett and ride that pony Mo. But...courage to Lorelei for keeping on being Lorelei.  (Who's a gem of a child, too, I think.)

Check out Birgitta Sif's first picture book Oliver and these other dancing books if you like this one:

A Dance Like Starlight by Kristy Dempsey
Rupert Can Dance by Jules Feiffer

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