¡A bailar! Let’s Dance!
This first picture book by award-winning author Judith Ortiz Cofer blends Spanish with English to create a culturally authentic look at one Latino community.
by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Illustrations by Christina Ann Rodriguez
Publication Date: October 31, 2011
Imprint: Piñata Books
“A bailar! There’s music in the park today—let’s dance!” Marita and her mother are finishing their Saturday chores and anticipating Papi’s salsa concert in the park that night, so Mami makes the broom her dance partner to show her daughter how to dance to the music. “Listen to the claves, the bongos, and the cowbells. Listen to the maracas, the timbales, and the güiro, they will tell you how to move your shoulders, your hips, your feet.” They dance faster and faster, so fast that they fall down on the floor laughing.
That afternoon, they put on their best dresses and dancing shoes, and old Don José says they look like “dos lindas flores.” He follows them slowly, “his cane tapping out a salsa beat on the sidewalk.” The music floats in and out of the barrio’s alleys, calling listeners to move, move, move. Soon Marita and her mother are leading a parade of neighbors and friends dancing and singing their way to the concert. And at the park, Papi plays notes on his trombone that are a secret between him and Marita: te veo, te ve-o, te ve-o. I see you, I see you, I see you!
Judith Ortiz Cofer’s lyrical text combining English and Spanish is complemented by Christina Ann Rodriguez’s vibrant images of the neighborhood’s unique characters—viejitos, fruit sellers, boys on skateboards and even babies—reveling in the beat of the music. Families will delight in reading together this warm, energetic look at one community’s enjoyment of the sights and sounds of salsa music.
“Cofer has crafted a delightful story, capturing the heart of the Latino community as it interweaves dance and life.—School Library Journal
“You can’t help but tap your feet as you read this book…The illustrations are as lively as the rhythm that urges you to move and the Spanish is so well woven into the story that bilingual readers don’t even notice the shift from one language to the other.”—Children’s Literature
JUDITH ORTIZ COFER, a poet, novelist, and essayist, is the author of numerous award winning books, including An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio (Orchid Books 1995, Penguin, 1997), recipient of the 1995 Pura Belpré Award, the ALA Best Books for Young Adults and the Horn Book/Fanfare Best Book of the Year List. Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood (Arte Público Press 1991) received a PEN citation, the Martha Albrand Award for non-fiction, and a Pushcart Prize for the essay “More Room.” She is the recipient of the 1999 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People for The Year of Our Revolution. Most recently, she has published a bilingual book for children, ¡A bailar! / Let’s Dance! (Piñata Books, 2011); Animal Jamboree: Latino Folktales /La fiesta de los animals: leyendas latinas (Piñata Books, 2012), a bilingual collection of Puerto Rican folktales for middle readers, and The Poet Upstairs (Piñata Books, 2012), an inspiring picture book that demonstrates how poetry can change the world. She was a long-time professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia before her death in 2016.
CHRISTINA ANN RODRIGUEZ obtained her BFA in illustration from the University of Hartford. Her work has been included in various publications, including Spider Magazine. She lives and works in Jackson, New Jersey.
ATOS Interest Level: Lower Grades
Category: Picture Book
ATOS English: 3.3
Accelerated Reader Quiz #: 147135