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Cover image for My Mama Had a Dancing Heart.
My Mama Had a Dancing Heart.



Publication Information:
1995 : NY, Scholastic.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 27 cm
A ballet dancer recalls how she and her mother would welcome each season with a dance outdoors.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.8 0.5 26726.

Reading Counts RC K-2 4.5 1 Quiz: 13101 Guided reading level: O.
Added Author (alt. graph.):
Col�on, Ra�ul,


Call Number

On Order



"In 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.... [An] exuberant celebration of dance." - School Library Journal, starred review

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. Colón (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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

In a poetic text, a ballet dancer remembers how she and her mother used to celebrate each season with a joyous, 'tip-tapping / song-singing / finger-snapping' dance. Afterward, mother and daughter would sit together quietly, enjoying a familiar seasonal activity: 'We'd cut snowflakes / paper-white delicate / and sip cocoa.' The textured illustrations alternate between repose and exuberant motion. From HORN BOOK 1995, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A lyrical dance through the seasons. This will be a switch for fans of Gray's Small Green Snake (1994). The poetry is retained, but the mood is soft and nostalgic. Mama is a dancer, and she shares her joy of movement with her daughter, who narrates. ""We'd dance a frog-hopping leaf-growing flower-opening hello spring ballet"" and then drink sassafras tea, she recalls. A winter dance includes making snow angels, and a promenade imitating the clumsiness of snowmen. Beverages mark the seasons (lemonade in summer, cocoa in winter) as do colors (a red-orange summer morning, paper-white cut-out snowflakes). As the book closes, the now-grown daughter ties on her toe shoes and performs ballet in exalted remembrance. Col¢n (Sharon Wyeth's Always My Dad, p. 236) gives his illustrations a 1940s feel; his palette of pine, green, maroon, violet, and gold glows warmly. Fine lines scratched into the drawings add a sense of motion beyond the dancing figures, highlighting the billowing clouds, rustling leaves, and the splashed-in puddles. The reflective mood may appeal--at first--more to adults, but the sharing of this book between generations creates a nice parallel to the intimacy of parent and child in the story. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Ages 4-8. "My mama had a dancing heart / and she shared that heart with me." So begins a picture book whose beauty is both in the words, stitched together like an heirloom quilt, and in the art, a magical collection of paintings that captures the love found in the best mother-daughter relationships. All the radiance of the seasons shines through as the daughter, now an adult, describes how she and her mother headed out to the shore in the summer with balloons and kites tied to their wrists. "And afterward we'd seashell-pile the windowsill / and drink cold lemonade." They'd leaf-dance in autumn and snow-dance in winter. In spring, "high-stepping and splashing," they'd "slip-swish" through the green grass and later read rain poems and drink sassafras tea. Colon, one of the most exciting new picture-book artists, uses a special technique incorporating colored pencil and watercolor washes in layers; he adds texture with scratching tools, which gives the pictures a distinctive look. That may be the technical explanation, but what viewers see is the stuff of dreams, gloriously colored, evocative pictures that somehow capture the elusive qualities of memory and love. (Reviewed Sept. 15, 1995)0531094707Ilene Cooper