Score: 94/100 (9.4 out of 10)
What a phenomenal book that gives life to a phenomenal concept! Anything that brings education and a love of the performing arts and physical fitness to children is a plus in our book. The thought and effort that went into creating this must've been off the charts! We were supremely impressed!
This isn't simply an instructional book about dancing, it's an interactive story that can make the experience more fun and exciting for the children. It is important to note that while this is a children's book, it really seems best in the hands that are already quite mature, capable, and competent. We feel you'll really need an older brother/sister, parent, or teacher to be guiding and supervising younger readers so that they can follow these routines.
Yes, the instructions are clear and easy-to-follow for adults, but they can be a bit much for young children. It is quite wordy and complex. While reading this, you're constantly referring back and forth between the story and the relevant movements. The movements are not very difficult and the pictures are just about perfect in showing how to do them. The story itself does seem a little off with a kind-hearted dancer/ballerina having to endure poor treatment from bullies like Declan while using her dance movements to perform a kind of magic. We love stories that have a clear antagonist, but something about Declan's presence and eventual comeuppance in this seems a little strange. He's a very comedic or one-dimensional villain who suffers a very straightforward outcome due to his behavior. He kinda looks and acts like Spike from Little Giants or that one kid who got his tongue stuck to the pole in Christmas Story. It is actually kinda interesting that he's even given a name at all as he could've just been called “the Bully” or the “Big Bully.” Is he a reoccurring character who undergoes an arc in some of the other books in this Once Upon a Dance series? Is he like Swiper and acts like a menace throughout the series maybe? There's no way he can be a one-and-done character with the amount of attention he gets.
Andi is a great role-model for children. She is passionate, thoughtful, hard working, and knows her self-worth. She doesn't respond to negative situations with hate, jealousy, or anger, but rather with a sense of calm, reminding herself that she can be the good she wants to see in the world. She's the heroine that children should really emulate.
We were simply not expecting this to involve serious human conflict with supernatural elements, but we get it. We have fantasy writers in our midst. We love seeing magic involved, especially when it seems symbolic for the kind of 'magic' you create through performance. And we also get that the author may have been trying to bring reality and some life lessons into this. There are gonna be people who are going to laugh and mock what you try to accomplish. They will try to discourage you, but you have to know that your goals are your goals and that the things you love to do are the things you should be doing. Follow your heart. Work hard. Believe in the process. Make progress. Win at life. It's quite a beautiful message!
The mother-daughter team at Once Upon a Dance did a phenomenal job and we're very excited to support and share their work!
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