Jose! Born to Dance: The Story of Jose Limon

Overview

José was a boy with a song in his heart and a dance in his step. Born in Mexico in 1908, he came into the world kicking like a steer, and grew up to love to draw, play the piano, and dream. José's dreaming took him to faraway places. He dreamed of bullfighters and the sounds of the cancan dancers that he saw with his father. Dance lit a fire in José's soul.
With his heart to guide him, José left his family and went to New York to dance. He learned to flow and float and fly ...

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Overview

José was a boy with a song in his heart and a dance in his step. Born in Mexico in 1908, he came into the world kicking like a steer, and grew up to love to draw, play the piano, and dream. José's dreaming took him to faraway places. He dreamed of bullfighters and the sounds of the cancan dancers that he saw with his father. Dance lit a fire in José's soul.
With his heart to guide him, José left his family and went to New York to dance. He learned to flow and float and fly through space with steps like a Mexican breeze. When José danced, his spirit soared. From New York to lands afar, José Limón became known as the man who gave the world his own kind of dance.
¡OLÉ! ¡OLÉ! ¡OLÉ!
Susanna Reich's lyrical text and Raúl Colón's shimmering artwork tell the story of a boy who was determined to make a difference in the world, and did. José! Born to Dance will inspire picture book readers to follow their hearts and live their dreams.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
In very simple, straightforward prose, Jose Limon is introduced as a young child surrounded by the sounds, smells, and tastes of Mexico. He was influenced not only by the dancers in the theater where his father worked and by the bullfights he saw, but also by the menace of Civil War. When Limon and his family flee to the United States, he studies hard, loves art and music, and finally leaves his widowed father to pursue an art career in New York. Discouraged, he finds inspiration in dance and finally discovers what he is meant to do. Drawing on his memories as he dances, he becomes world-famous. Exclamations add spice to the narrative, while full-page illustrations are created with colored pencils and watercolors in Colon's typical style of stencil-like shapes, grainy textures with frequent combed scratches, and muted colors. We see the growth of the dancer from a young child. The image of his early performance with outstretched arms and pointing feet against a blood-red wall is particularly effective in stimulating emotions. A note fills in details of the dancer's life. There is also a brief glossary of the Spanish words included and a bibliography. 2005, A Paula Wiseman Book/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Ages 5 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-This story of a young Mexican boy with dreams works better as a picture book than a true biography. Brief anecdotes, presented like a slide show, take readers from Limon's birth through a happy childhood, the Mexican civil war, immigration and adaptation to the United States, and his struggle to become a painter, and then a dancer, in New York City. Colon's watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations on textured paper give a sense of movement and life. Colors are muted, backgrounds are somewhat impressionistic, and there is more energy in the art than in the very simple text. Short sentences, Spanish words scattered about (defined both in context and in a brief glossary on the copyright page), and some rhythm and sound effects make this a good read-aloud, though the lack of emotion at such pivotal moments as the outbreak of war, a mother's death, and Limon's leaving his elderly father for New York, is a weakness. The book gives little sense of the importance of Limon's life as a dancer and choreographer, and his transition from struggling painter to successful dancer is oddly abrupt. A historical note addresses his adult life and impact on dance history. Use this as a story or to pique the interest of children in this artist, but not as a biography.-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This first introduction for children to renowned dancer and choreographer Jose Lim-n pairs equally soaring text and visuals. Born "kicking like a roped steer," young Lim-n moved with his family from Mexico to California during the Mexican Revolution, made his way to New York during the '20s, and after searching for an artistic vocation, found his life's work in the modern art dance of Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, creating "dances sweet as birdsong-TRILLIA-WEET! / Hot as the desert sun--¡S'! ¡S'! / Sad as broken dreams-O, so-ador." Focusing mainly on Lim-n's childhood, Col-n takes him from cradle to curtain call in a series of portraits that captures his strength and grace perfectly. Reich's narrative neatly draws together both his search for a medium of artistic expression that was right for him (he was talented in music and visual arts, too), and the influence of early incidents, sights and even sounds on his mature style. She closes with a triple "BRAVO!" that readers will certainly echo, plus an extended biographical note and a select list of resources in several media. An inspiring tribute to a major figure in the arts, featuring some of Col-n's most moving, powerful work yet. (Picture book/biography. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689865763
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • Publication date: 7/26/2005
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 691,997
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Susanna Reich is the author of Clara Schumann: Piano Virtuoso, which was named an NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book, an ALA Notable Book, and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. A former professional dancer, Ms. Reich lives with her family in Ossining, New York.

Raúl Colón has illustrated several highly acclaimed picture books, including the New York Times bestselling Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt, Susanna Reich’s José! Born to Dance, and Jill Biden’s Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops. Mr. Colón lived in Puerto Rico as a young boy and now resides in New City, New York, with his family.

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