Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Are You Ready To Dance?

It doesn't take much for children to dance.  They have no worries about expressing the cadence they hear whether it's found in words, music or a combination of words and music. Not only do they dance but they take great joy in doing it.  It only takes one to start grooving and it spreads in mere seconds.  And oh . . . the laughter accompanying their dancing makes your soul soar.

The air vibrates with happiness when children dance.  Hip-Hop Lollipop (Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, October 2, 2018) written by Susan McElroy Montanari with illustrations by Brian Pinkney is certain to have people in motion as soon as the title is read. They will also feel themselves grinning with gladness.  They know something good, really good, is about to happen.

Mama says, "Lollipop, stop!


Jumping snapping
Arms and shoulders pop 'n' lock.
Lollie's dancing hip-hop.

There is no stopping this little gal.  Her hands, knees, arms and hips are constantly moving.  She is jumping with jubilation. 

When Mama calls out it's bedtime, does she stop? She does not.  She moves down the hallway pausing by her sister's bedroom doorway.  Without missing a beat, Lollie and Tasha become a dancing duo.  Tick. Tock.  Now Daddy adds his voice to the time-for-bed declaration.

As the music bounces off the bathroom walls, the siblings brush their teeth in preparation.  Copper, the family dog, is done for the day.  Boo Boo, the family cat, uses Lollie for a pillow.  Lollie snuggles on top of Copper.  Mama ushers the sleepy trio into Lollie's bedroom.

Pajamas donned, and blankets drawn up to her chin, Lollie still listens to the music, lower and less loud. Daddy gives a goodnight kiss.  Copper curls on the bedroom floor.  Boo Boo snuggles on the cozy bed.  What twirls in Lollie's dreams?

It's impossible to read the words in this story written by Susan McElroy Montanari without nodding your head, shimmying your shoulders, or tapping your toes.  Each phrase is designed to provide a pulse which promptly syncs with readers' internal rhythms.  The rhyming nearly shouts off the pages in total merriment. Here is a passage.

Hands tutting.
Knees jutting.
Arms cranking.
Body swanking.
Hip gyration.


One look, just one look, at this opened and matching dust jacket and book case is certain to have readers smiling and ready to dance.  Like the swirls of rhythm around Lollie, Copper and Boo Boo, this trio is happily stepping to the music.  You can't sit still.  You want to jump into the image and join them.

To the left, on the back, in other curves of color (more green) Tasha and Lollie lift their legs in perfect nearly poetic action.  Copper gladly joins them.  Part of the words from the above quoted passage appears over this illustration. 

The shade of purple used in the title text covers the opening and closing endpapers.  Beneath the words on the title page, Lollie smiles as she holds her portable music player.  Rendered in

watercolor and India ink on Strathmore watercolor paper

by Brian Pinkney, the illustrations are highly animated and loaded with familial cheer and comfort.

More than once the double-page images contain several smaller scenarios to heighten the pacing.  Brian's signature whirls of color combinations and fluid lines will surely engage readers on each page.  Readers will find themselves smiling at the exuberant expressions on the characters faces, even Mama and Daddy. 

One of my many favorite illustrations spans two pages (as do all the pictures).  A sunny yellow is a prominent hue in the wash of color.  Brush strokes and lines of pink, blue and a bit of green join this vibrant palette.  In the center her body moving to the left and right of the gutter, Lollie dances with abandon.  She is joined by Copper on the left and Boo Boo on the right.  I think I can hear the music and laughter, too.  This image is accompanied by the above-quoted text.

For story time, bed time (sweet dreams are assured), for a unit on music, dance or creative drama, Hip-Hop Lollipop written by Susan McElroy Montanari with illustrations by Brian Pinkney is an excellent choice.  The charm, playfulness and enthusiasm of Lollipop and the members of her family will wrap around you through these words and artwork.  You will want to include this title in your professional and personal collections.

To learn more about Susan McElroy Montanari and Brian Pinkney and their other work, please visit their respective websites by following the links attached to their names.  At the publisher's website you can view interior images.  Susan maintains accounts on Twitter and Instagram

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