I Will Dance by Nancy Bo Flood

Cover image for I Will Dance

I Will Dance by Nancy Bo Flood, illustrated by Julianna Swaney (9781534430617)

A little girl with cerebral palsy makes a birthday wish that she gets a pink tutu and can dance. When Eva was born, she wasn’t expected to survive more than a short while, but she is now ten years old. She wants to dance but can’t move more than her head and her arms and fingers. Eva can’t use her legs to run and move like other children can. Then her mother discovers a new dance program for people of all ages and all abilities. Still, will they let her join in even though she is in a wheelchair? Yes! When Eva arrives there are children of all sorts of ages, sizes, and who have a variety of assistive devices they use. Soon they are not only dancing but creating a performance where they do more than pretend and imagine. They dance!

At the end of the book, the author explains that a program called Young Dance inspired this picture book. The Executive Director of the Young Dance program also shares information on the program and its opportunities for children of all abilities. This picture book is inspiring on a variety of levels, for children who may think their limitations would prevent them from dancing, certainly. Plus it also shows everyone else not to make assumptions about what is possible and whether a dream can come true. Still, it is based firmly in reality, and as the book points out takes imagination and makes it real.

Swaney’s illustrations are lovely, showing both Eva’s physical limitations and also the beauty and freedom she first sees and then discovers herself in dancing. The use of sparkling energy to show the movement and magic of dance works particularly well.

A book that is inspiring and breaks stereotypes through dance. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Simon & Schuster.

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