________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 16 . . . . April 3, 2009

cover Dance Baby Dance.

Andrea Spalding.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2009.
24 pp., board, $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55469-079-4.

Preschool / Ages 1-3.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

***˝ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


Dance baby dance
We’ll dance with you
Dance baby dance
Friends dance around you
Dancing singing
Voices ringing
Join our circle
Dance baby dance

The proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is at the heart of this enticing board book which is written in verse, mostly rhyming couplets. While the dance that the child has been invited to join can be interpreted literally, it can also be seen as an invitation to join others in the larger dance of the circle of life. The dance, which is seen to occur in all four seasons, begins in the child’s immediate “people” environment with parents and then extends to include siblings, cousins, grandparents (and a Teddy Bear). The physical environment widens from the family garden to the local park and neighbours’ homes, but the child is reassured that:

Wherever you dance
Whatever you do
Hands will hold you
Arms will enfold you
A circle of friends Will dance with you.
Dance Baby Dance

internal art

    Full-page colour photos occupy one page of each of the 11 pairs of facing pages, and the text, which appears on the opposite page, is enclosed in a coloured circle. Toddlers will enjoy the photos of their age peers who represent a variety of racial groups.

     Overall, Dance Baby Dance is an excellent lap book to be shared with the very young; however, there is one possibly problematic couplet. While Spalding would never have thought to include a verse that encouraged toddlers to sample the contents of the family’s medicine chest or a cupboard full of cleaning supplies, she does write:

Dance down the road and into the park
Pat the puppy that wriggles and barks

     Possibly, if these words had been accompanied by a photo of a cuddly puppy (in the fashion of the cute kitten on the previous page), then they could have been almost acceptable for, in real life, the worst outcome for the child might have been a nip from a puppy’s milk teeth. However, the dog shown in the photograph is an adult dog of some size. In the same manner that parents childproof their homes, they must begin to “petproof” their children from an early age. Regarding dogs, one Internet source points out that “children under 12 years account for 50% of dog bites” while “children under five years of age account for the majority of severe dog bites.”

     The above caution aside, Dance Baby Dance is a most worthy public library addition and an excellent gift book purchase for parents.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is CM’s editor.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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