Baby Dance by Ann Taylor, pictures by Marjorie van Heerden.
HarperFestival Devision, HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, 1999.
Board book, 14 pages.
Baby is crying and Mom and the cat are napping, so Dad takes baby for a movement-filled dance that dries up the tears until the happy, well-rested family reunites on their couch.
I absolutely loved the swirling movement of the illustrations, and the way that the background subtly moved through the rainbow from a calm purple to an energetic yellow.
I wasn’t keen on the depiction of the hair. We meet three characters – mother, baby, and a man presumably father, but not named, so he could also be an uncle, stepfather, or other relation. Mom’s hair is long and curly/wavy. Baby’s hair appears in some pictures to be in twists or short braids, but in others to be loose with bows on it. Dad’s hair is equally ambiguous. In this case I would have liked a little more definition for the hair.
Again referring to the art, I was a bit confused by how baby was drawn. Were the pictures intending to depict an older child, or did the illustrator just not have much experience drawing babies? Since father and child are continually in motion, the art is much more difficult to execute, and the child looked adult or awkward on some pages.
However, I did enjoy the shading, interesting backgrounds, and portrayal of dad. I’m curious what medium was used (chalk? pastels?) to get the layered swirls of color on the backgrounds. The balance of text/picture was perfect for a board book; there is never more than a sentence on each page spread.
The text is based on a poem from the 1800s – I assume white South African illustrator Marjorie van Heerden did the adaption, although perhaps it was the publisher.
Probably the aspect of this that annoys me the most is the spine. This is part of the Harper Growing Tree line, so the spine is red to correspond with the level and the logo takes up half the space. It doesn’t connect with the book at all, and since the book is rather slim, this makes it quite hard to pick it out off the shelf when I want to read it.
Rated for Newborns and up, this certainly is interactive to read to a wee baby and dance along. However, the size is a bit big for Baby to play with, so we mainly use this as a lap book. I think it will be more intriguing to a toddler, and the text, despite a few difficult words (ceiling), could be deciphered by an early reader.
I did have some qualms about a few aspects of this book, but overall the dancing and portrayal of a caring, involved father figure won me over.