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Stompin' at the Savoy: The Story of Norma Miller Hardcover – January 24, 2006

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Stompin' at the Savoy: The Story of Norma Miller + Swingin' at the Savoy + Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6–This autobiography of a Lindy Hopper from the Harlem Renaissance era sizzles with spirit and swings with vitality. Miller was only five when she knew she wanted to be a dancer, and for a time she lived in an apartment behind the famous Savoy Ballroom. Dancing on the street with friends when she was 12, she caught the attention of the ballrooms top dancer, Twist Mouth George, and soon found herself in contests and shows, eventually traveling throughout the U.S. and South America and appearing in movies. Miller tells her story with humor and candor, describing her mothers disapproval and the tensions of life in show business under a manager, as well as the sheer joy she found in swing dancing. She worked with stars such as Ethel Waters and the Marx Brothers, but also experienced the indignities of Jim Crow segregation. Her feisty, independent spirit shapes her narration, making this an entertaining, compelling read. Stylized black-and-white illustrations, produced digitally and in mixed media, nearly swing right off the pages in their exuberant depiction of dancers and scenes from the Harlem Renaissance, many set over an Art Deco motif. Richard Michelsons Happy Feet: The Savoy Ballroom Lindy Hoppers and Me (Harcourt, 2005) depicts the vibrant scene for a younger audience.–Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. Govenar, a folklorist, has used his conversations with dancer Norma Miller as the basis of this interesting autobiography. He begins by introducing the adult Miller, now in her eighties, who continues to teach, choreograph, dance, and "swing, baby, swing." In a voice as brisk as a dance step, Miller begins at the beginning: her birth, a few months after her father's death, and her mother's struggle to keep the family together. As a kid, Miller did get one break; she lived in Harlem on 140th Street near the Savoy Ballroom, a popular nightspot where blacks and whites danced, and she would dance outside the Savoy for change. By 12, she was dancing inside, and at 15, she was a professional dancer in Europe. Because of the first-person narrative, explanations are not always complete, especially when it comes to the intricacies of dances such as the Lindy Hop. But the pages turn on Miller's energy, and French's sophisticated ink-and-wash art, with a deco sensibility, has both sass and style. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 820L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; First Printing edition (January 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763622443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763622442
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm sitting here at my desk staring at two different children's books. Both books were published in 2006. Both books are named "Stompin' At the Savoy". But only one book is the title that has been getting raves, starred reviews, and generally healthy applause from he masses. Yes, when it all comes down to it, give me the "Stompin' At the Savoy" written by Alan Govenar over the one written by Bebe Moore Campbell anyday. In Govenar's case, we have a wholly original and interesting little biography. Ever heard of Norma Miller? You will. As one of the great Lindy Hoppers of the 20th century (to say nothing of the other dances she fit into her repertoire) this is the story of swing, of jazz, and of the Roaring 20s and pre-WWII America. It also manages to convey the rhythm and pure athleticism of dancing at that time. A wonderful tribute to a true New York original.

She was born on December 2, 1919 in New York City, a mere month after her father died. Her mother had two small children to support and was only twenty years old. Sometimes to pay the rent she'd throw rent parties, and it was there that Norma first started learning to dance. As she got older, she and the other kids would dance outside the great Savoy Ballroom until the bouncer frightened them off. When she got older she started dancing with a partner and she got so good that Herbert White (or Whitey) took her in as a dancer. Throughout the years Norma would tour Europe, find herself in Hollywood, work with the great Ethel Waters, and finally do what she loved doing for the rest of her life. Dancing up a storm.

Hats off to illustrator Martin French, by the way. Illustrations can sometimes make or break a biography, especially one as slim (54 pages) as this puppy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Huisken on June 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was surprised at how much this book touched me, and grateful for the little bits of history and "filling in the blank" that it provided.

Norma has been a major force in a dance form that many of us around the world have come to cherish. This is a well-written, simple but elegant document of part of her contribution - definitely worth a read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Moose on June 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One interesting part of the book is the question whether Norma still had one big regret in life which was not getting married when she had the chance. The decisions one makes in life??
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Format: Hardcover
The Savoy Ballroom is a little known part of American Musical History - but boy, was it important and influential! "Stompin at the Savoy" provides a first-hand look at this pivotal era. Highly recommended for families that are interested in dance, music and the history of the New York music scene.
and beside....it's really fun to read!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A nice story for our children to read. She goes so far back but not enough depth for me.
A true lover of life person.
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Format: Hardcover
we love music and we love the Renaissance era in the history of it sounds like a great book. thank you
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