About the Book:
Title: Dancing with Daddy
Author: Anitra Rowe Schulte
Illustrator: Ziyue Chen
Pub. Date: December 1, 2021
Beagles and Books is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Dancing with Daddy. Special thanks to Two Lions and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Excited to go to her first father-daughter dance, Elsie picks out a beautiful red dress with a matching bow because the color matches Daddy’s soccer jersey. As they drive home from the store, Elsie sees snow flurries and begins to worry. Will the weather ruin her special night?
Inspired by the author’s own daughter, the main character, Elsie, has Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome (WHS). Through the illustrations and text, readers learn how Elsie moves through the use of a wheelchair, eats by way of a plastic tool that pushes food in her stomach, and talks by touching picture squares in a book. To the reader, this way of life will be new, but to Elsie’s family, this is normal daily activity which is evident in Chen’s beautiful illustrations.
Schulte’s text is a pleasure to read. I love how her words create mental images for the reader. For example, when the store clerk wrapped up Elsie’s dress and bow, the tissue paper crunched like fresh snow. When Elsie listened to her father reading a bedtime story, her heart did pirouettes. She also uses vivid verbs such as hurried, squealed, swayed, twirled, dipped, and thumped to provide great opportunities for visualization.
Spoiler. The snow did not cancel the dance (Yay!) and Elsie, her sisters Daphne and Rosalie, and father enjoy a night to remember. When her sisters take a break from dancing, my heart melted when her father asked Elsie “May I have this dance?” The following page spread shows the boundless love between father and daughter dancing as if they are the only ones in the room. I love the final page spread because all three daughters are dancing with their father having the time of their lives.
Reading Dancing with Daddy is like being wrapped in a warm hug. The immense love of the family is beautifully conveyed in Schulte’s uplifting text and Chen’s gorgeous artwork. Highly recommend to add to libraries big or small-public, school, classroom and home!
Praise for Dancing with Daddy!
★“Refreshingly, Elsie’s disability is seamlessly presented as simply another aspect of family life…As she swings and sways in her father’s arms, her forehead against his, their love is palpable; Chen’s illustrations fairly glow with affection…A heartwarming portrayal of a family embracing disability.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“[Anitra] Rowe Schulte uses accessible, rhythmic language…conveying Elsie’s thoughts in pink- and red-colored text. Light-filled digital illustrations by [Ziyue] Chen make use of differing angles and dynamic shots, emphasizing the love the family has for one another.” ―Publishers Weekly
“This sweet story is a great addition to any diverse and inclusive library.” ―TODAY
About the Author:
Anitra Rowe Schulte has worked as a journalist for The Kansas City Star and the Sun-Times News Group, as a staff writer for Chicago Public Schools, and as a publicist. She is the mother of three beautiful girls, one of whom has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome and is the inspiration for Elsie in this book. She lives in the Chicago area, and this is her first picture book. Learn more about her at www.anitraroweschulte.com and follow her at @anitraschulte on Twitter.
About the Illustrator:
Ziyue Chen is the Deaf illustrator of a number of children’s books, including Mela and the Elephant by Dow Phumiruk, How Women Won the Vote by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and Rocket-Bye Baby: A Spaceflight Lullaby by Danna Smith. She lives with her loved ones in Singapore. Find out more at www.ziyuechen.com or follow her @ziyuechen on Instagram.