My Mama Had a Dancing Heart

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A ballet dancer recalls how she and her mother would welcome each season with a dance outdoors.

A ballet dancer recalls how she and her mother would welcome each season with a dance outdoors.

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A ballet dancer recalls how she and her mother would welcome each season with a dance outdoors.

A ballet dancer recalls how she and her mother would welcome each season with a dance outdoors.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gray's (Small Green Snake) narrator shares a melodic remembrance of her mother, who welcomed each season with boundless enthusiasm-and bade her daughter to do the same: "Bless the world/ it feels like/ a tip-tapping/ song-singing/ finger-snapping/ kind of day. / Let's celebrate." The two danced barefoot in the spring rain, ran through the summer surf with balloons and kites tied to their wrists, performed a "leaf-kicking/ leg-lifting/ hand-clapping/ hello autumn ballet," and lay on the ground to make snow angels in winter. Shifting to the present tense, the girl-now a ballerina-notes how these memories serve as inspiration as she leaps across the stage. Though her imagery tends toward the precious, Gray has crafted a genuinely affectionate, personal tribute to someone who embraced life wholeheartedly. Coln (Always My Dad) contributes sophisticated, inventively textured art, rendered in an intriguing combination of watercolor washes, etching, and colored and litho pencils. The pictures gracefully convey the chronic motion described in Gray's text; their muted, earth-toned colors lend a nostalgic feel. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
A ballet dancer remembers her mother who shared her love for dance as they celebrated each season. The language is a joy to chant. "Bless the world it feels like/ a tip-tapping/ song-singing/ finger-snapping kind of day. Let's celebrate!" the rhythms of language translated themselves into the language of dance for the girl. Watercolors in muted greens, purples and gold create the illusion of a rhythmical reverie.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
"My Mama had a dancing heart and she shared that heart with me" heralds this book's first page. At the story's conclusion, a young ballerina dances to rhythms she's learned from her treasured growing up years, repeating the same lyrical line as if its guided her to her present passion. The entire book is a circle of celebration; of season, of the love that builds between an exuberant mother and her responsive daughter; and of the how that love nurtures self. Together, mother and daughter glorify the turning of time with dances; from their "frog-hopping, leaf-growing, flower-opening hello spring ballet" to their "body-flat arms-moving-up-and-down snow-angel hello winter ballet". In between waltz wonderful experiences of senses as they read poems read aloud while drinking sassafras tea with lemon curls or cut "paper-white delicate snowflakes" while sipping cocoa. Illustrations by Raul Colon extol the whirl of dance and the tenderness of a secure and playful relationship.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-This award-winning lyrical tale by Libba Moore Gray (Orchard, 1996) recounts the memories of a ballet dancer who sings the praises of her mama, who believed in celebrating the wonders of the natural world through dance. Gray follows the mother-daughter pair through the seasons as they rejoice in the pastoral setting of home, summer seashore, spring meadows, autumn orchard, and snowy hills. The rhythm of the poetic narration is given voice by Bonnie Kelly-Young, whose fluid chanting of the text brings to life the delight of the young storyteller. Illustrator Raul Colon used watercolor washes and colored pencils on watercolor paper, then etched the surface. The results reverberate with pulsing pastel colors, holding textures that invite readers to trace curving shapes and contours on the page. Composer Chris Kubie's soft, yet spirited orchestral accompaniment to the spoken words fully engages listeners in a truly sensual appreciation of this work. The page-turn signal on one side of the tape is the sound of rustling pages; the other side of the tape is an uninterrupted version. The fine aural quality of the recording allows listeners to discern clearly the dominant narration, the echoing melody, and the subtle page rustle. The resulting harmony of words, pictures, and music creates a noteworthy addition audiobook collections. Pair this title with Karen Ackerman's Song and Dance Man (Knopf, 1988) for a toe-tapping double act.-Mary Burkey, Grandview Heights City Schools, Columbus, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3In spring, summer, fall and winter, a mother leads her young daughter in dancing a celebratory ballet, a hymn to the season. When the girl is older, she is a ballerina and remembers that her mother gave her a dancing heart. Gray writes with her trademark hyphenated, onomatopoetic descriptions. In the winter, they are like ``galoshes-galumphing'' snowmen, and in the fall, Gray describes the ``eye-blinking blue air'' and the ``leaf-kicking leg-lifting hand-clapping hello autumn ballet.'' The end of the story is sentimental and perhaps nostalgic beyond children's understanding. But what is clear is that the daughter credits her mother with her joy of movement. Also special is the closeness the two share whether sipping hot tea or cutting out paper snowflakes. Coln's etched watercolors in earth and muted jewel tones give the book an old-fashioned ambiance. Purples, roses, rusts, and greens are textured from the etching and the shading with color pencils, and the technique lends a sense of motion to the paintings, as does Coln's depiction of the dancers with their arched backs, kicking legs, and outstretched arms. Gray's writing lends itself to reading aloud, but independent readers will also enjoy it. Pair this with one of Patricia Lee Gauch's ``Tanya'' books (Philomel), which exhibit the same joy in movement, or with Shimmy Shake Earthquake (Little, 1992), a collection that is written with the same exuberant celebration of dance.Cheri Estes, Detroit Country Day School Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874997415
  • Publisher: Live Oak Media
  • Publication date: 1/1/2001
  • Edition description: Abridged
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2007

    This book is divine!

    The rhythmic quality of this book is absolutely wonderful. I love reading this book to children. Experience the sheer beauty of the joy a mother and daughter share. Try to read it without crying, I dare you! I love this book, it is a keeper for all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2009

    Fun story

    My mama had a dancing heart is a fun, happy story about ballet dancing in every season. Great story which is love by children of all ages.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2003

    A classic

    This book is simply beautiful. One of our favorites, recommend it to mothers and daughters everywhere.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2002

    emotional ending

    one of the best books i read in years

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2009

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