From School Library Journal
Grade 1-5–A story set in Colonial Virginia and based on local legend. Colonel Lightfoot was an amazing dancer, and always the first to say so. His self-satisfaction and flashy moves caught the attention of the devil. Hating to be outdone, the fiend began dancing at night on the colonel's land, turning it into a swampy mess. Enraged and overly confident, Lightfoot challenged him to a dancing duel. Gore combined acrylics and pastels to create vibrant, textured illustrations. Lightfoot always appears to be thinner and sprightlier than the other characters, who are well dressed and proper. His elongated grace is echoed by his foe's lithe shape. A finely curled mustache and goatee add a bit of humor to the devil's countenance and prevent him from looking too evil. Likewise, winged angels and petulant, toddlerlike demons provide musical accompaniment and comic relief during the contest. In the end, Lightfoot bested his adversary, who slunk down to the fires below. Concluding the story with a few shivers, Quattlebaum reveals that on dark nights, people still see sparks flying on Dancing Point, where the competition continues. An author's note cites sources and informs readers that Dancing Point is a real place located along the James River. Told with tongue-tingling language, this story will make a great read-aloud.–Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
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A colonist wins a dance with the devil in this lively retelling of a Virginia folktale. Colonel Lightfoot, a fine dancer, has been known for his "quicksilver feet" since childhood. In addition to his "waltzing ways," he prides himself on his land, which is pristine except for one corner, where the devil likes to dance. Striking his flinty hooves on the wet ground, the dancing devil spoils ever-larger patches of the colonel's property. Then the devil challenges the colonel to a dancing contest: Whoever can dance the longest will be lord of the land, once and for all. The colonel accepts, and, in a reversal of pride, wins by downplaying his own talents and baiting the devil's boastful arrogance. Gore's textured illustrations convey the story's energy and comedy in beautifully composed scenes of the vain, buffoonish dancers, circling and strutting. What really shines here, though, are the folksy words, which have all the infectious rhythm of a country dance. An author's note citing sources closes this sure hit for story hours and units on morality tales. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved