Rap a Tap Tap: Here's Bojangles - Think of That!


With bold paintings and a simple, rhyming text, Caldecott Medalists Leo & Diane Dillon bring young readers a rap a tap tap celebration of dance that will have readers clapping and tapping along.

"There once was a man who danced in the street / He brought pleasure and joy to the people he'd greet / He didn't just dance, he made art with his feet / Rap a tap tap--think of that!"
This simple book for young children has the added bonus of describing the life of a ...

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With bold paintings and a simple, rhyming text, Caldecott Medalists Leo & Diane Dillon bring young readers a rap a tap tap celebration of dance that will have readers clapping and tapping along.

"There once was a man who danced in the street / He brought pleasure and joy to the people he'd greet / He didn't just dance, he made art with his feet / Rap a tap tap--think of that!"
This simple book for young children has the added bonus of describing the life of a ground-breaking African-American tap dancer. Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was one of the most popular entertainers of the 1920s-30s. People said he "talked with his feet," and in the Dillons' graceful paintings of old New York, he dances from page to page to the tune of a toe-tapping rhyme. Rap a tap tap--think of that!

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

A tribute to Bill "Bojangles" Robinson captures the rhythm of the famous tap dancing he did all over the city: in the street, behind doors that were both open and closed to him, in crowds, in upscale neighborhoods as well as "the skids," in the park, and ultimately, on stage. Watercolor illustrations in sophisticated shades of tan, plum, aqua, mustard, olive, rust, black, and gray recall the pre-WWII era in which Robinson lived and danced. The stylized figures, shown mostly in profile without detailed features, are reminiscent of Synthia Saint James's work and stand out cleanly against a bright white background. The contagious, joyful exhilaration of Bojangles's dance is conveyed through shadowy legs surrounding his real ones, as if the rapt onlookers' eyes could not keep up with his frenetic movement, as well as the rhyming text that begs to be read aloud and repeated. A note at the end explains who Bojangles was and includes fascinating information about his life and his talent, including the fact that no other dancer was ever able to repeat some of his more intricate steps. Spectacular, clear design includes spot varnish on the cover, highlighting the colorful type and figures against a matte white. This jazzy introduction to an important contributor to American culture will entrance the youngest music and dance fans.--Kirkus Reviews, August 1st 2002, starred review
In a departure from their recognizable illustration style, the versatile husband-and-wife team here uses a striking gouache painting technique that pays homage to Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas to craft an exuberant picture-book tribute to African-American tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (1878-1949). Brief, rhyming text introduces the tall, lean and dapper man who "danced in the street" and "made art with his feet." In keeping with tapdancing tradition, each line of verse returns to a rhythmic refrain ("Rap a tap tap think of that!"). The deceptively simple text conveys the complexities of the era: "He danced past doors; some were open, some closed" accompanies a montage of entryways, with some people welcoming Robinson, but a white man closing his door. On the other hand "folks in fancy clothes" depicts whites and blacks together outside a show. Most spreads exude the everyday joys of a bustling city neighborhood, and the bouncy beat will hold the attention of even youngest readers. A short biographical note appears at the end of the book. The cubed-looking apartment buildings, an elevated/subway train, store fronts and traffic lights suggest Manhattan (eagle-eye readers will notice an obscured sign for 125th Street), but the scenes are general enough to lend the art a universal, timeless feel. The Dillons cleverly depict Robinson's fast-flying feet with varying shades of the same color around his legs, creating a sense of movement with a shadow/silhouette effect. The graceful figure he cuts on the page is a hoofer's delight.--Publishers Weekly, August 12th, 2002, starred review
Legendary African-American tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (1878-1949) is the subject of this picture book. Graphically, the volume is a joy and would work well in a group setting. The left side of each spread contains an outdoor scene in which people are captivated by the performer's dancing: exuberant children, dressed-to-the-nines adults, the ragged homeless. Where the boldly painted, flat images overlap, the colors change, as if the foreground objects were transparent. Continuing this approach, the dancer is rendered in brown, gray, or black on the right, sporting multiple appendages-that is, the parts of his body that are still "moving" appear in lighter shades behind or on top of the more deeply hued arms and legs. There is a sense of progressive motion until the climax, when Bojangles moves across the entire white field, a series of intersecting pale gray to black forms, finally bowing, top hat in hand. The simple, rhymed text is less inspired
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-Leo and Diane Dillon's book (Blue Sky Press, 2002) about tap-dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (1878-1949) received a Coretta Scott King Honor for its illustrations. The audio format greatly enhances the story, as Charles Turner narrates the tale of the man who "talked with his feet." Live background music from the 1920's, punctuated by the rhythmic tapping of feet enliven the reading of the rhymed text. In the book, Diane Dillon's colorful gouache illustrations of inner-city scenes are met with cleverly designed graphics of Bojangles, his tapping feet depicted in shades of grey prompting the illusion of movement. This wonderful introduction to a talented African-American entertainer is appropriate for group or individual enjoyment, and will be a welcome addition to the music, movement, and art curriculum.-Kirsten Martindale, formerly Menomonie Public Library, WI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590478830
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2002
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 230,720
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.38 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Versatility, diversity, research, and integrity have remained characteristics of the Dillons’ work, which ranges from African folktales to Scandinavian epics, from fantasy to science fiction. In addition to two Caldecott Medals (for Ashanti to Zulu and Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears), they have received four New York Times Best Illustrated Awards, four Boston Globe/Horn Book Awards, two Coretta Scott King Awards, and the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal, and were inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1997.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book is fun to read. It rhymes and has a little melody to it. A guy goes around town tapping his feet and becomes famous. It's a great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2003

    My Non-Reader Loves to Read This!!!

    I ordered this book through a scholastic order form sent home from school. The art I could see looked very interesting which is important to get the attention of young children. Also, because it references a real person, I thought it would be a good selection for the children. It's the best book I've bought for my kids in the last year. Not only because of the pictures and history associated, but because of the story. My son has had alot of difficulty learning to read. While he can easily read many of the words, there are just enough difficult ones for him to have to sound out. He loved the repeated 'Rap a tap tap - think of that!' Singing it out every time he got to it. He usually gives up very easy when he tries to read, but I think the rewarding song-verse on every other page made him want to continue. While this was designated as a picture book, rather than a reading book, I'm extremely happy that it is one my child found rewarding to read. He also enjoyed the information about 'Bojangles' at the end and had lots of questions... He proclaimed out loud before going to bed 'This is my favorite book!'

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