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Song and Dance Man (Borzoi Book) Hardcover – January 14, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Once a song and dance man, Grandpa reclaims his youth and profession before the delighted eyes of his three grandchildren one afternoon. He simply cannot resist the urge to dress up in clothes left over from his vaudeville days--complete with top hat and gold-headed cane--and to perform tricks, play banjo and tell jokes. He taps, twirls and laughs himself to tears on a thrown-together stage in his attic. Artist Stephen Gammell takes full advantage of lamplight to render Grandpa in shadow and silhouette, trivializing the concept of age and creating a feeling of intense nostalgia. Related from the point of view of the children, the text in Song and Dance Man is soft and understated, and Gammell's artistry is superb. The book won the Caldecott Medal in 1989. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Grandpa, once a song-and-dance man on the vaudeville stage, is invigorated by a visit from three grandchildren. They climb the stairs to the attic where mementoes of the past glitter invitingly through the dust. The reminders of days gone by beckon to Grandpa; he wants to show his grandchildren what made a song-and-dance man great. Throwing open an old trunk, he arranges a stage while the children try on hats and attempt a few steps of their own. At last the mesmerizing show begins: Grandpa plays the banjo and performs tricks; he tells the oldest of jokes and laughs until his eyes water. This tender story is charmingly told; Gammell's illustrations, particularly his portrayal of Grandpa, sparkle with personality. By working ingeniously in shadows and silhouettes that hint at a younger and more vibrant Grandpa and by using small explosions of color, the artist further enhances the blending of past and present. Ages 3-7.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Series: Borzoi Book
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (January 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394893301
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394893303
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.4 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Again, it's a very sweet and meaningful story.
Duke Boys
The book is designed to be read at about the second grade level, and will be enjoyed by children from about age three when read to them.
Donald Mitchell
A sweet, gentle story that encourages intergenerational communication.
J. J. Falcone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 7, 2000
Format: Library Binding
This delightful book written by Karen Ackerman depicts a fun and loving relationship between a grandfather and his grandchildren. The children are delighted with their grandfather's antics and his tales of a time long ago when he was young, dancing on the vaudeville stage. The book depicts the grandfather as an energetic and vivacious elderly person and a joy for his grandchildren. Young children will love the vibrant and colorful llustrations by Stephen Gammell which add a sense of excitement and reality to the story.
Note to teachers: This book can be used in a unit pertaining to family and would be an excellent source for teaching another area of diversity, the elderly.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
I think there must be a whole old-people-dancing picture book genre out there. Tons of these books appear on the market every year and they bring in a steady profit time and time again. Perhaps the most successful of these (which is to say, it won an award) is Karen Ackerman's charming, "Song and Dance Man". A simple tale of a grandfather puttin' on a show for his grandchildren, the book is a touching tribute to the Vaudeville kings and queens of yore.

Three bright eyed urchins appear at their grandfather's door one day, to his evident delight. Without further ado he leads them up into the house's attic where he keeps a trunk of old treasures. It takes a little sifting and shifting to find exactly what he needs, but soon Grandpa's old taps are on his feet and the lamps in the attic become the spotlights of a makeshift stage. Grandpa begins with a shuffle footed tap solo then moves on to banjo playing/singing, magic tricks, and awful old jokes. The night's entertainment is topped off with a grand finale of tapping and dancing. The crowd (of three) goes wild and everything is put away again. "But as he turns off the attic light, Grandpa glances back up the stairs, and we wonder how much he really misses that time on the vaudeville stage, when he was a song and dance man".

You've probably seen illustrations by Minnesota based artist Stephen Gammell before and just didn't know it. They've a kind of controlled insanity, though this book is not half as violent to the senses as his truly disturbing "Old Black Fly". Instead, this story comes off as merely messy, but with a vibrant undertone. The colors in the pictures are often of a sweet rainbow filled spectrum. Grandpa's nose, a permanent red, sits prominently on his kind face.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Crystal-Carrie Griffiths on April 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
Song and Dance Man was about two grandchildren and their grandpa who used to be a song and dance man on the vaudeville stage. He takes the children up to the attic and shows them some of his old dances and costumes. He performs for them and the children feel just as if they were at the vaudeville stage watching this magnificent dance. This book shows the close relationship between grandparents and there grandchildren and is a wonderful book for children to read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By NK on May 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With a peep into the past, it's also the best of good old-fashioned values. A really warm, sweet, and simple story of just having fun - as a family, intergenerationally and without electronic noise. And the book is not heavy-handed, but the story sends a message about fun - and how we can all create fun without props and just our own voices and body and each other - is a good, and needed, one for both children and adults. I bought it for my 28-month-old and highly recommend this book - it leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside and is just a good, clean, nice story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Duke Boys on June 23, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a K teacher. My kids enjoy this book during our family unit. My 3 yr old boy enjoys it as well. In a world full of copy only talent, this book allows for discussion about music, dance, performance, stage, arts, musicals, and of course, grandparents. The pictures are captivating making the kids want to investigate the pages closely, and they prompt questions. Again, it's a very sweet and meaningful story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nobodymmmmm on May 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
I don't always agree with Caldecott nominations and winners, but this time I'm really impressed. The story is fun, but the awesome thing about this book is definitely the illustrations. Younger children who are not sucked into stories and harder to hold the attention of will be mesmerized by the paintings.
Absolutely beautiful!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
We liked the Song and Dance Man. We liked how it sounds when you read it. We liked all the different colors in the pictures. They made the book nice. We liked how Grandpa did all of the dancing. We thought the jokes were funny.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is a great book. It is about a grandfather who dances and sing for his grandchildren up in the attic. The part I like the most is when the man dances really fast it makes music and when he spins and jumps up into the air.

I would reommend this book, because it is a fun book to read.
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