Dancing with Daddy (Anitra Rowe Schulte)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dancing with Daddy, written by Anitra Rowe Schulte and illustrated by Ziyue Chen, a heartwarming tale of a dance, a dress, and the love between family.

Elsie can’t wait for the upcoming father-daughter dance! She’s picked out a dress that matches her daddy’s soccer jersey, complete with sparkly bow, and her sisters have helped her find her dancing groove. Unfortunately, the snow keeps coming down all night, and Elsie is scared that the dance will be cancelled. Will Elsie get her chance to spin and swirl with her sisters and Daddy?

Beautiful. This simple, lovely tale of family togetherness is made all the more impactful by its protagonist, Elsie, who is nonverbal and uses a wheelchair. Elsie’s disability is never treated as a spectacle, instead presenting aspects of daily life for her special needs matter-of-factly and without fanfare. She uses a communication book as well as a feeding tube, has loving and affectionate relationships with her able-bodied sisters and parents, and expresses her complex inner thoughts to the audience through italics in the text. This approach marvelously creates a special-needs main character that readers both disabled and able-bodied can connect and empathize with without exploiting her disability for dramatic effect. Chen’s artwork is tender, expressive, and colorful, though suffers the slightly flat aspect of much computerized illustration. The length is perfect for a elementary-aged storytime, and JJ absolutely loved seeing someone else who uses visual aids to help with speech. At its heart, this is a simple family story, but its unique main character elevate it to a must-read. We loved it, and its Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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