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1. Join the Sept/Oct Read & Romp Roundup!


The mornings are getting darker, the days are getting shorter, and fall is in the air -- at least here in the states. So it must be time for the September/October Read & Romp Roundup! If you have a recent (or even not so recent) blog post that involves picture books or children's poetry AND dance, yoga, or another form of movement, leave your link in a comment on this post. Or, you can reach me on Facebook or Twitter to let me know about your link. I'll round up all the links and post them together soon. Looking forward to hearing from you! 

Submissions are open through Monday, October 27, 2014. 

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2. Read, Create, Dance: Crafterina's New Video!

Today's a special day for our friend Vanessa Salgado -- dancer, dance educator, visual artist, and creator extraordinaire. Vanessa is the mastermind behind a unique character and children's book called Crafterina, which is more or less a storybook, craft book, and dance lesson all rolled into one. Today is special because it marks the launch of Crafterina's first YouTube video about the book. Take a look!


I had the pleasure of interviewing Vanessa last year to talk about how Crafterina came to be and how crafts and dance go hand in hand. You can read that interview here. And, to supplement the book, Vanessa has created an Etsy site where you can purchase a wide range of additional dance-themed crafts. Her back-to-school paper dolls and pumpkin Halloween mask are popular ones for this time of year. Congratulations, Vanessa, on all your success!

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3. Giveaway: Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance!


When I first saw the cover of Frances Dean Who Loves to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif, I knew it was a picture book I wanted to get my hands on. And when I finally did, I wasn't disappointed. The cover, which I loved from the start, doesn't even do justice to the illustrations inside. Created in muted tones with pencil and digital coloring, they are truly gorgeous! 

Dedicated "to all those who live with all their heart," Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance is a child's journey of overcoming inhibitions to be herself and do what she loves, no matter whom might be watching. 

Frances Dean loves to dance. In fact, she loves to dance AND dance (as the title of the book implies.) She especially loves to dance outside, where she can feel the wind and hear the birds around her, as long as no one is watching. But with the help of her animal friends and another little girl with a big talent, Frances slowly but surely overcomes her self-consciousness. In fact, by the end of the book, she loves to dance and dance AND dance!


Overcoming inhibitions to pursue your passion is an important life lesson, and one that often takes years and years to learn. I still remember when I was in college, covering up my computer screen any time someone came in the room, for fear that he or she might read what I was writing. Now, many years later, I'm willing to show my writing to just about anyone, eager for feedback and comfortable with criticism. But boy did it take a long time. 

Little Frances Dean, having already overcome similar fears, is well on her way to a happy and healthy life. Although Frances Dean's passion is dance, her story is universal and could be applied to other passions such as music, art, and sports. I hope she can inspire lots of other little girls and boys to follow in her footsteps!

I'm giving away a copy of Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance! Simply leave a comment on this post to enter. Feel free to share your passion, or share a story about overcoming your inhibitions, in your comment. The giveaway closes at 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, September 24, 2014. 

You can learn more about author/illustrator Birgitta Sif at http://www.birgittasif.com or in a recent interview with her at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. And finally, thanks to Random House for sending me a review copy of this book. I ended up buying my own copy as well, so receiving the review copy allowed me to host this giveaway. 

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4. Read & Romp Roundup: July/August 2014

I just realized that August was the four-year anniversary of Picture Books & Pirouettes. When I was starting the blog back in 2010, someone asked me if there were really enough dance-related picture books to keep the blog going. I had done my research, and I knew that the answer was yes. But, as time has gone on, even I have been amazed by the sheer number of movement-related books out there -- those that contain movement, those that inspire movement, and those that do both. And they just keep coming!

If you check out the left-hand column of the blog, you will see some new releases, some books that have been on the shelves for a little while, and some others that will be published in the next few months. The July/August Read & Romp Roundup also highlights many of these titles -- a true testament to this special niche in children's literature. Thanks for helping Picture Books & Pirouettes keep going strong!



At Playing by the Book, Zoe hosted a summer picture book party that included reading, dancing, and creative cooking and crafts. One of the books she featured was Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance, which inspired Zoe and her daughters to dance with abandon, just like Frances Dean learns to do in the book!


Thanks to Cathy Ballou Mealy, I also found a lovely review of Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance on the blog The Illustrated Forest. The author of the post sums up this beautiful book by Birgitta Sif so eloquently in the first few lines of the post that I hope it entices you to read the rest. "Birgitta Sif writes books for people like us; she takes characters that are introverted and makes them brave; she makes them heroes in their own way, and if you are a little shy that is truly uplifting."


Kathleen at Wild Things Yoga shares a yoga lesson plan, perfect for first and second graders, to go with the picture book I Wonder by Annaka Harris and John Rowe. Following a discussion of the book and what her students wonder about in general, Kathleen explores the concept of wondering using movement. For example, "I wonder what would happen if we try to balance on our hands?" and "I wonder what would happen if we try to put our head to our knees?" Fun!


At Picture-Book-a-Day, Amy shares one of her monthly picture book roundups, where she reviews four recent picture books. Two of the books -- Father's Chinese Opera by Rich Lo and I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison and Frank Morrison -- contain lots of movement. And if you're looking for movement ideas to go with I Got the Rhythm, Amy's got you covered! She features the book, along with movement ideas for preschool story time, in the August Book to Boogie post at the Library as Incubator Project.


The July Book to Boogie post at the Library as Incubator Project features the picture book Here Are My Hands by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, and Ted Rand. Written by dance educator Maria Hanley, the enthusiastic post provides plenty of ideas for getting babies and toddlers moving with different body parts!


Thanks to Darshana Khiani, I found out about the blog All Done Monkey, which recently featured a board book about dances from India! Dances of India is the first in a series of four books created by two mothers who wanted to increase the availability of multicultural books for small children. With the help of two characters named Maya and Leela, the book takes readers on a journey across India, introducing four classical dances from distinct regions of the country.


I had the pleasure of meeting well-known author and illustrator Jules Feiffer at a children's writing conference a few years ago and was delighted when I stumbled across a video of him discussing his new picture book Rupert Can Dance. The MacMillan Children's Publishing Group hosts the wonderful one-minute video, during which Mr. Feiffer talks about his inspiration for the book.


I recently discovered the blog The Brown Bookshelf, which "is designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers." In July, the site highlighted two picture books about young girls inspired to dance. The first -- Firebird -- is written by Misty Copeland, who as a soloist for the American Ballet Theater was the first Black woman to star in the Firebird ballet. The second -- A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream -- is about a little girl who becomes inspired by the first Black prima ballerina, Janet Collins.


And last but not least, I discovered a post on The Book Chook featuring a new picture book out of Australia called Little Piggy's Got No Moves. Written by the husband and wife team of Phillip Gwynne and Eliza McCann with illustrations by Tom Jellett, the book celebrates the uniqueness of every child through a story about Little Piggy, who learns that he really can dance, even though no one thought piggies could groove. Check it out!

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5. An Interview with Author Marlena Zapf: Part II

I’m happy to re-introduce picture book author Marlena Zapf to you today. Last week Marlena talked with me about the writing and publication process for her debut picture book Underpants Dance. Today we’re going to focus our discussion on movement -- the movement in the book, Marlena’s background in dance, and how she uses yoga and movement for her author visits!


Welcome back, Marlena! I love how you left a lot of room for illustrations in Underpants Dance, especially when Lily is dancing in her room. “First she did this. Then she did this. Then she went round and round like this. Then she said, “TA-DA!” At these places in the book, were the illustrations by Lynne Avril what you envisioned, or a total surprise?

I feel so fortunate that Lynne agreed to illustrate Underpants Dance. She brings Lily’s spirit to life so perfectly. I believe that picture books are a dialogue between text and illustration, and so I deliberately left room for Lynne to do her thing. I only gave my editor a few notes about what I wanted (like the Toulouse-Lautrec in the museum scene) and trusted the rest. I was expecting Lynne to come up with new things, so I wasn’t incredibly surprised by the illustrations in general.


What did surprise me was that when I received the cover illustration of Lily, it looked strikingly like a dance photo of myself that had been taken that very same week. I will add that Lynne had NEVER seen a picture of me.


Your website also includes some other great photos of you either dancing or wearing that really cool tutu. Do you have a background in dance? 

I’ve always danced for fun, but I never studied dance until I was an adult. (My mother decided to save me from repeating her own unpleasant childhood experience with ballet by signing me up for Girl Scouts instead. I think I would have preferred dance class.) Perhaps it’s for this reason that people often tell me my dance has a childlike quality. I have fun, dance with abandon, and don’t care what anyone thinks of me.

As an adult, I’ve studied a bunch of different kinds of dance, and continue to take new classes when I can. I do something called contact improvisation, which is done with partners or groups, and plays consciously with the physics of gravity and momentum, as well as human connection — it’s a great metaphor for how we move through life and relationships. I’m also part of a community in New England that hosts what are sometimes called “barefoot” or “ecstatic” dances. Really what that means is you take off your shoes and dance however you want. For me, it’s a moving meditation.

School visits are such a big part of marketing picture books these days. How do you present your book to children, teachers, and school librarians? (A little birdie told me that it might involve movement.)

Lily’s story is really about self-expression, so I encourage kids to express themselves through activities that accompany the reading. And I don’t just stand there and tell the kids what to do. I engage with them. I’m certified to teach kids’ yoga and movement, so I use some of those techniques to help kids focus and then have fun with them after the reading.

If the children are sitting on the floor, I like to spread out colorful Yoga Dots, which I learned about from Rosemary Clough. You can buy them or make them out of old yoga mats. (Kids love to pick out their favorite color.) They serve a dual purpose. They give kids focus and a place to sit for the portion of the presentation for which they need to stay still(ish). Afterward, you can use them to play games in which the kids step, dance, jump, and move on or around the dots. This way, kids get their wiggles out, but the dots provide a focus that keeps things contained so that the “wild rumpus” doesn’t turn into utter mayhem. (Teachers are not fans of mayhem.)

Here’s a simple example. Set the dots around the space and play music or sing a song while kids move aroundthe dots. You might encourage them to move at a certain speed or with a specific movement. When the music or song stops, kids jump on a dot and assume their favorite shape or yoga pose. Repeat!

Wow. I didn’t realize you were certified to teach kids’ yoga and movement, too. You are very multi-talented! It’s been a pleasure learning more about Underpants Dance and how you incorporate yoga and movement into your author visits. Thank you, Marlena! 

In case you missed Part I of my interview with Marlena, you can check it out here. You can also learn more about Marlena on her website at www.marlenazapf.com!

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6. Join the July/August Read & Romp Roundup!


Yikes! Where has the time gone? Today is the official call for submissions for the July/August Read & Romp Roundup. If you have a recent (or even not so recent) blog post that involves picture books or children's poetry AND dance, yoga, or another form of movement, leave your link in a comment on this post. Or, you can reach me on Facebook or Twitter to let me know about your link. I'll round up all the links and post them together soon. Looking forward to hearing from you! And for those of you celebrating Labor Day, enjoy the long holiday weekend!

Submissions are open through Friday, September 5, 2014. 

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7. An Interview with Author Marlena Zapf: Part I

Earlier this month I attended the annual summer conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), where I   so enjoyed hearing a variety of publication success stories, especially those of debut picture book authors and illustrators like Pat Zietlow Millerand Aaron BeckerToday another debut picture book author   -- Marlena Zapf -- is joining us to tell us about her own unique journey to publication. Marlena's book Underpants Dance, with exuberant illustrations by Lynne Avril, was published by Dial in April of this year. It is the story of Lily McBloom, who loves her brand-new underpants so much that she makes up a special dance to show them off. As it turns outs, she loves her underpants so much that she even takes her fancy new dance on the road -- with both hilarious and heartwarming consequences.

Congratulations on your picture book debut! Can you tell us a little bit about how Underpants Dance came to be?

Of course! When I wrote Underpants Dance and chose not to include an ending in which the protagonist “learns her lesson” in the traditional way, I knew not every editor would be jumping to publish it. So what did I do? Research  -- just like SCBWI and every children’s book editor will tell you to do. And it paid off.

Here is what I did. I found out that Steve Meltzer was the Dutton editor for Walter the Farting Dog, and I figured if he likes farting dogs he might be okay with underpants, too. So I followed Dutton’s submission guidelines and sent him a query. He sent back a note asking me to email the manuscript, which I did. Then I waited…almost a whole year. Now, I’ve worked in publishing and know how busy things get. I had a good hunch that the email with my manuscript was lost for good. I also knew that Steve probably had an assistant who read all his mail. So I decided to send a hard copy with a letter politely explaining the situation. Lo and behold, the assistant did find my manuscript, and after some further editorial gymnastics, I ended up with editor Liz Waniewski at Dial and a book contract with my name on it.

Wow. That’s a great story of research and persistence paying off! If we go back in time a little further, what initially inspired you to write Underpants Dance?

I used to be a reading editor at a big school publisher. One thing you need to understand about school publishers is that they put lots of money into developing textbooks that they hope to sell all across the country. And because they need to appeal to a broad market in order to make their sales and not go bankrupt, they can’t offend anybody. So, if a state such as, oh, Texas for instance, declares it won’t acquire any textbooks that include stories about children who defy authority, well then a publisher sure as heck isn’t going to include that kind of story in its program. (Never mind that LOTS can be learned and enjoyed from stories about protagonists who misbehave and make mistakes. Luckily we have awesome librarians to direct kids to those books.) This corporate culture of self-censorship ran counter to my often contrary, somewhat rebellious, nature. And that is where the story of my story begins...


As it happened, I was in this big important publishing meeting where experts were discussing the kinds of stories we should commission. I recall something about well-behaved children who always wear their bicycle helmets and gleefully eat peas…no kidding. Two thoughts went through my mind:

1. What if a REAL child walked into this room right now? These people wouldn’t know what to do with her (especially if she were my cousin’s three-year-old daughter, who was going through her eschewing-any-and-all-clothing phase).

2. What if I jumped up onto the conference table right now and danced in my underpants?

But neither of these things happened. What happened was that I quietly nibbled a dried-up lemon danish and nodded politely while a little girl named Lily McBloom wandered into my thoughts. And she started doing everything that the children in the textbook stories weren’t supposed to do. Then, when the meeting was over, I went back to my desk and wrote the story’s first lines.

Way to go for following your heart! What was the most exciting part of the publication process for you after that?

I guess for me it was when Underpants Dance was finally released. The publication of my first book was a LOOOOOOOOONG process. It was delayed a bunch of times. I think it took about a decade from beginning to end. I’m hoping the publication of my next books won’t take quite so long.

Speaking of your next books, do you have any projects in the works that you can tell us about? I hope they will be in print soon, too!

I’ve written more stories about Lily and Lily’s sister Marigold, but my publisher is waiting to see how Underpants Dance sells before committing to something like a series. This is how publishing works now. So, if you like Underpants Dance and want to see more of Lily, please spread the word!

I’m also working on a middle grade fantasy series inspired by a quote from Joseph Campbell: “There are no models in our mythology for an individual woman’s quest.” Actually, I believe that a new mythology is being created right now, in our time, by authors, storytellers, filmmakers, and especially girls and women themselves. That’s a party I can’t help but join.

If you’d like to hear more from Marlena, stay tuned for Part II of our interview. Next week we’ll be chatting about Marlena's background in movement and how she’ll be incorporating it into her author visits for Underpants Dance!

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8. Read & Romp Roundup: May/June 2014

Welcome to the first bimonthly Read & Romp Roundup. Thanks to those of you who submitted posts this time around. I also happened to stumble across a few additional posts related to picture books and dance, so I've included those as well. Hope you enjoy the roundup!


Danielle at This Picture Book Life shares a post about the picture book Bonjour Camille, which will be released in August from Chronicle Books. Dressed in a tutu and a top hat, Camille is a little girl with a whole lot of things to do! Check out Danielle's post to learn more about these "things" and to see several bold and energetic illustrations from the book.


Atelierstorytime shares a blog post by Anna Forlati -- the illustrator of the Italian picture book Yoga Piccolo Piccolo. Translated as "Small Small Yoga," Yoga Piccolo Picollo may not be available in an English version, but the gorgeous illustrations in this blog post will speak to everyone!


At Maria's Movers, Maria explores the wordless picture book Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle, which won a Caldecott Honor in 2014. Read her post to see how she used the book in a workshop for 6-year-olds about creating new dances!


Maria was also featured in the June Book to Boogie post at the Library as Incubator Project, where she shared movement ideas to go with the picture book Here Are My Hands. A month earlier, the May Book to Boogie post featured movement ideas to go with the picture book SPLASH! by Ann Jonas.


At the Dirigible Plum, Elizabeth reviews the nonfiction picture book Dancing to Freedom: The True Story of Mao's Last Dancer. The book tells the story of Li Cunxin, who grew up in rural China and was selected as a boy to move to Beijing to train as a ballet dancer. Interestingly, the book is written by the dancer himself. The illustrations by Anne Spudvilas, some of which you can see in Elizabeth's post, help tell his emotional story.


And last but not least, Reading Today Online shares a fun interview with Connie Schofield-Morrison and Frank Morrison -- the husband-and-wife team who created the new picture book I Got the Rhythm. They actually interview each other about creating the book. You don't want to miss it!

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9. Join the May/June Read & Romp Roundup!


As you might have noticed, I've gotten a little behind with my Read & Romp Roundups. I've been pondering what to do about this, and I think I'm going to try having bi-monthly roundups -- that is, every two months -- instead of monthly roundups. What do you think? Hopefully this will help me stay on track a little better. Plus, there are lots of picture books I want to share with you and some authors and illustrators I would love to interview, so hopefully this change will give me more time for that as well. So, that being said...

Today is the official call for submissions for the May/June Read & Romp Roundup. If you have a recent (or even not so recent) blog post that involves picture books or children's poetry AND dance, yoga, or another form of movement, leave your link in a comment on this post. Or, you can reach me on Facebook or Twitter to let me know about your link. I'll round up all the links and post them together before the end of the month. And then we should be back on schedule. Hope to hear from you!

Submissions are open through Friday, July 25, 2014. 

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10. Read & Romp Roundup: April 2014

At long last, here is the April Read & Romp Roundup. I know the roundup is SUPER DUPER late this time, but to compensate I promise it's going to be a great one. Thanks to all who contributed!


Sandy at Unpacking the POWER of Picture Books starts us off with a bang! All in one post, she highlights the picture books A Dance like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream, Bea at Ballet, On Your Toes: A Ballet ABC, and Oliver Button is a Sissy. Plus, she includes links to other reviews of A Dance Like Starlight, as well as to an interview with the author and illustrator of Flora and the Flamingo. Thanks to Cathy at Bildebok from Cathy Ballou Mealey for letting me know about this post!


A Dance Like Starlight was a popular book in April, especially given that April was National Poetry Month and the book is written so poetically by author Kristy Dempsey. Rhapsody in Books shares a review of the book, including several passages of text and several stunning images by illustrator Floyd Cooper.


In April, Giselle at Kids Yoga Stories celebrated picture books by author and illustrator Denise Fleming. In addition to listing seven of her favorite books by Fleming, Giselle provides yoga, movement, and counting ideas to go with Count!, In the Tall, Tall Grass, and In the Small, Small Pond. 


The April Book to Boogie post at The Library as Incubator Project features guest blogger Jill Homan Randall, who provides movement ideas to go with the picture book Dance with Me by Charles R. Smith Jr. and Noah J. Zones. Short but spirited, the post is sure to inspire you to integrate this book into a lively story time!


Kathleen at Wild Things Yoga shares a yoga lesson plan for first and second graders based on the award-winning picture book biography The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. The lesson plan focuses on balance, perseverance, self-awareness, and risk-taking -- concepts that are also explored in the book, which tells the story of Philippe Petite, who walked along a wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. The post also provides links to a slideshow, news story, and mini-documentary about this amazing story!


If you love the character Gerald from the picture book Giraffes Can't Dance, you'll love Jayne's April post at ABCs of Reading. The post explores how you can work on the reading comprehension strategy of "making connections" through drama and creative movement, such as by having students travel through the story from Gerald's perspective. For example, "Try to run around, but buckle at the knees. What are your feelings when you fall?" This creative and insightful post also contains a link to an art lesson based on Giraffes Can't Dance...and more!


In her monthly roundup at Chapter Book Explorer, Amy features Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle. A sequel to Federle's Better Nate than Ever, this new chapter book continues Nate's journey to make it big on Broadway. "Take another hilarious and touch ride with Nate Foster as he learns to live in the Big Apple, masters his choreography, has his first kiss, and saves the show!" says Amy.

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11. Celebrate Maryland with Movement and Art


Today I'm participating in the second annual Booking Across the USA blog tour, which has been organized so well by our fearless leader Jodie at Growing Book by Book. Each blogger on the tour is creating an activity for young children that is related to one of the 50 U.S. states and is inspired by a new series of books -- Travels with Charlie -- by Miles Backer with illustrations by Chuck Nitzberg. I signed up for Maryland!

Some of you might remember that my family and I moved from Maryland to California late last summer, so we've been in our new home for almost an entire school year now. Wow! I must say that I am truly enjoying the beauty, sunshine, and way of life out here on the West Coast, but I do miss many things about Maryland, so this blog tour gave me a chance to reminisce.


The four books in the Travels with Charlie series tackle the West, Midwest, South, and Northeast regions of the United States. Maryland is one of 12 states included in the Travelin' the Northeast book, which publisher Blue Apple Books so graciously sent me to help write this post.

Maryland, like each of the states in the book, is devoted a full-page spread that includes the state capital, a picture of the state flag, a bulleted list of interesting facts about the state, and a poem. The poem ends with the line "Where's Charlie?" to get children not only looking for Charlie (the cute dog you see on the cover of the book) but also perusing all the fun, bright, and educational illustrations in which Charlie is hiding on each spread. 

Movement Activity
Given my blog's theme, I wanted to come up with a book-related activity that involved movement. So why not create a simple dance to the book's poem about Maryland? But first, here are a few definitions that are important to know in order to execute the movements in the dance...

Skipjack: Maryland's official state boat, which looks like a sailboat and is used to fish for oysters in the Chesapeake Bay

Fort McHenry: A star-shaped fort in Baltimore, Maryland, where part of the War of 1812 was fought

And here is the book's poem about Maryland, along with movements to go with each line or group of lines. As you'll see, the first few movements are wavy and circular and the last few are sharp and straight, to give children the opportunity to explore both types…

Maryland: The Old Line State

Where is a skipjack
on Chesapeake Bay? 
[Put you hands in a triangle shape just above your head (like a sail) and sway from side to side like you are going over waves.]

Where's Assateague Island, 
where wild ponies play?
[Gallop (like a pony) in a circular pattern on the floor.]

Where's Fort McHenry
where Francis Scott Key
wrote the "Star Spangled Banner" --
[March in a star shape (like the shape of Fort McHenry). Put an outline of a star on the floor or use stickers for the points of the star if needed. Rather than making circular patterns as they march, the children should make straight lines, in more of a military fashion.]

"Oh, say can you see?"
[Stop marching and put your hand on your heart as if you are listening to the Star Spangled Banner, also known as our national anthem!]

Art Activity
The star spangled banner was actually a flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem. (The flag was raised at Fort McHenry after a crucial battle in 1814.) What makes this banner so special is that it is the only version of the American flag that has 15 stars and 15 stripes. You can read more about the banner at this website of the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, where the original flag is on display.

Star spangled banner on display at the National Museum of American History

For an art activity, each child can color his or her own star spangled banner, either freehand our using a coloring page. Here is a sample coloring page from the TPS-Barat Educational Foundation. TPS-Barat also has a whole star spangled banner lesson plan for students in kindergarten through second grade, which could probably be adapted for younger students as well. It's aligned with some of the common core language arts standards and includes illustrations, recordings, lyrics, and more related to the national anthem. (When you color the flag, don't forget that the first stripe is a red one.)

Star spangled banner coloring page from TPS-Barat Educational Foundation

You might consider playing the national anthem in the background as the children color their flags, or turning their coloring pages into "real" flags using some glue and popsicle sticks or straws. If time allows, it might also be nice to do a little marching dance to the national anthem when the flags are finished. First have the kids stand still and wave their flags to the beat. Then have them march, holding their flags still over their heads. Finally, see if they can march and wave their flags at the same time while still keeping the beat!

Don't forget to stop by Growing Book by Book to find the rest of posts in this year's Booking Across the USA tour…plus a giveaway. You can also explore picture books by authors and illustrator from the 50 states through last year's tour here

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12. Join the April Read & Romp Roundup!


I can't believe how quickly April is flying by! The warm weather here in California is inspiring me to get moving more than usual, and today I took my first dance class in a few months. Am feeling pretty good! Hope you are all enjoying warm weather and plenty of movement, too. And, since April is National Poetry Month, I hope you are finding some time to sneak in some poetry, either for yourself or for your little ones. If so, I'd love to hear all about it and how it might be related to movement!

Today's the official call for submissions for the April Read & Romp Roundup. If you have a recent (or even not so recent) blog post that involves picture books or children's poetry AND dance, yoga, or another form of movement, leave your link in a comment on this post. Or, you can reach me on Facebook or Twitter to let me know about your link. If you know of others who might be interested in joining the roundup, please help spread the word, too. I'll round up all the links and post them together in a few weeks. Hope to hear from you!

Submissions are open through Thursday, May 1, 2014. 

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13. Read & Romp Roundup: March 2014

Welcome to the March Read & Romp Roundup! Women's History Month was celebrated widely in March, so several of the submissions feature women who have broken boundaries in the world of dance -- the African American ballerina Janet Collins and the inspiring dancer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker. And of course, no roundup would be complete without picture books and movement ideas to go with them, which are also included. Enjoy!


At Good Reads with Ronna, Rita Zobayan reviews the popular new picture book A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream by Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper. "Inspired by the story of Janet Collins, the first African American ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream is a story of high hopes and grand dreams," says Rita. Read the full review to see why this "wonderful tale of courage, perseverance, and determination" brought tears to her eyes.

Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month hosts special guest blogger Kristy Dempsey -- the author of A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream. What a treat! Hear from the author herself about her inspiration and experience writing the book. "A Dance Like Starlight is my song of thanks to all the women throughout history who have shown us who we can be and have given us an example to pursue our dreams with passion," Kristy says.


At Booktalking #Kidlit, Anastasia Suen features the new picture book Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby and Christian Robinson. Josephine struggled in her early life but became a celebrated dancer and performer after moving from the United States to Paris in the 1920's. Anastasia's post includes a snippet of text from the book, which is written in free verse. It also includes a book trailer and plenty of examples of the book's illustrations, which are stunning.


Maria from Maria's Movers shares some creative activities to go with the picture book The Squiggle by Carole Lexa Schaefer and Pierr Morgan. With her younger students, Maria used long colorful strings (as squiggles) to explore some of the ideas from the book, and with her older students she made up string dances!


And finally, don't forget to check out the March Book to Boogie post at the Library as Incubator Project. Dance educator Liz Vacco shares movement ideas to go with the classic picture book Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. She includes ideas for both younger and older students and recommends music to go with the movement!

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14. Good Night, Animal World: A Kids Yoga Story


A lot of movement-themed picture books are not the best bedtime picks because they can rile up little ones and make it hard for them to fall asleep. But Good Night, Animal World -- a new children's book by yoga teacher and independent author Giselle Shardlow -- was written to be read specifically at bedtime.

The yoga-inspired text and the illustrations by Emily Gedzyk are all meant to help wind children down at night so they can relax and sleep well. What a great premise -- and one that definitely got me excited (especially as a mother) to look inside this book!

Inside, six characters take readers to six parts of the world -- Australia, England, Guatamala, India, Tanzania, and the United States -- to say goodnight to animals from those specific regions. Each page shows an illustration of an animal, accompanied by some simple text (some imagery about the animal and a goodnight message) and a yoga pose. The 13 poses in the book, chosen for their calming potential, include forward bends, restorative poses, gentle twists, and some inversions.

Below is the "turtle" page from the book, followed by a book trailer that includes other images from the book plus some book reviews -- all set to relaxing music, of course!



It's actually hard to see how children wouldn't be calm after finishing this book. "Embrace their creativity and let them experiment with the poses. Whatever helps them release extra energy before bedtime is the perfect pose," says Giselle. The poses are even laid out in a sequence that facilitates flow from one pose to the next. And my favorite part of the book? The resting pose at the end! Just thinking about it is making me super sleepy… I think I need to take a rest!

This post is part of a blog tour hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviews, where you can also see the full schedule for the tour. To learn more about author Giselle Shardlow and her series of Yoga Kid Stories, go to her website at www.kidsyogastories.com.

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15. Join the March Read & Romp Roundup!


Today's the official call for submissions for the March Read & Romp Roundup! If you have a recent (or even not so recent) blog post that involves picture books or children's poetry AND dance, yoga, or another form of movement, leave your link in a comment on this post. Or, you can reach me on Facebook or Twitter to let me know about your link. I'll round up all the links and post them together in a few weeks. Hope you can join us this month!

Submissions are open through Monday, March 31, 2014. 

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16. Read & Romp Roundup: February 2014

Welcome to the February Read & Romp Roundup! As usual, we have a nice mix of submissions this month, including some poetry. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the reading -- which will hopefully lead to some romping as well!


Amy at Picture-Book-a-Day is back to share a short review of the new picture book A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream by Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper. The book is set in the 1950's and tells the story of a fictional African-American girl who sees the first "colored" prima ballerina --Janet Collins -- perform. The review is part of a roundup that includes some other recent picture books:  Don't Play with Your Food, Mr. Flux, and Yellow is My Color Star.


Amy was also featured in the February Book to Boogie post at The Library as Incubator Project. In her post, she summarizes the picture book Move! by Robin Page and Steve Jenkins and describes her ideas for using it to inspire movement during library story time.


Elly at Yoga & Creative Movement with Elly suggests retelling the classic picture book Fortunately (by Remy Charlip) through movement games and yoga poses. She also suggests having kids tell, act out, or write their own story in a "fortunately…unfortunately" format. Check out her post for all the details!


Kathleen at Wild Things Yoga is a kindred spirit with a love for picture books and movement, especially yoga. This month she shares a lesson plan -- a shorter version for preschoolers and kindergartners and a longer version for first and second graders -- for combining yoga with the picture book The Leopard's Drum by Jessica Souhami. The book, which is a West African tale about a leopard who doesn't want to share a huge drum he makes, also lends itself to discussions about fairness and problem solving.

And last but not least, two guest dance educators join Maria's Movers to share their experiences using different kinds of poetry in their creative movement classes. Becca Beck and Kerry Bevens discuss building dances around poems, using poems as warm-ups, exploring nursery rhymes in class, and more!

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17. Poetry Friday: I'm a Little Snowman!

Happy Poetry Friday! This poem's an original that was published in the February 2014 issue of Highlights High Five magazine, posted here with permission from Highlights for Children, Inc. It's an action rhyme, recited to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot," but with a snow-themed twist. After you read this post, you can check out Karen Edmisten's blog for more Poetry Friday fun!


I'm a Little Snowman, short and round.
Here are my eyes and the arms you found. 
When the sun in springtime hits the ground, 
See me vanish without a sound.

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18. Join the February Read & Romp Roundup!


Today's the official call for submissions for the February Read & Romp Roundup! If you have a recent (or even not so recent) blog post that involves picture books or children's poetry AND dance, yoga, or another form of movement, leave your link in a comment on this post. Or, you can reach me on Facebook or Twitter to let me know about your link. I'll round up all the links and post them together in a few weeks. Thanks to those who have already submitted to me this month, and looking forward to seeing what else you have to share!

Submissions are open through Friday, February 28, 2014. 

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19. Dream Big with Skate Dance Dream!

Photo courtesy of Sara Thellman

The U.S. figure skating team has been doing a fabulous job at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, most recently taking home the gold medal in the ice dancing competition. Not surprisingly, figure skating is one of my favorite sports to watch, probably because it has so much in common with dance. Parker Pennington, a former U.S. figure skating champion, thinks so too. “I find them both to be very artistic and athletic,” he told me during a recent interview.

The reason I was interviewing Parker is because he is the founder and executive producer of Skate Dance Dream -- a unique live performance show that fuses figure skating and dance. Parker is a huge fan of the television show So You Think You Can Dance, and two of the past performers on the show -- Sara Von Gillern and Gev Manoukian -- had backgrounds in figure skating. This gave Parker the idea of combining the two art forms into a single performance in which stars team up with young up-and-coming artists.

Skate Dance Dream is also unique in that it caters to the different locations where the performances take place. At each location, about 100 young skaters and dancers from that particular region are cast. The stars, who are finalists from So You Think You Can Dance and Olympic and World Class figure skaters, also change from show to show depending on the locations.

Photo courtesy of Allen Clark Photography

“So you could see break dancers or ballerinas, or you could see a comedy act on ice. You could catch people back flipping or sliding on their heads across the ice,” says Parker. “We are always trying to keep things fresh and innovative while serving to inspire the performance arts community as a whole.”

Skate Dance Dream is a wonderful opportunity for young dancers and skaters who are following their dreams. It actually reminds me of two recent picture books written by another figure skating champion -- Kristi Yamaguchi -- with illustrations by Tim Bowers. The first book, called Dream Big Little Pig, is about a pig named Poppy who wants to be a star


“Follow your dreams!” said Poppy’s mother, who loved her no matter what. “You go girl,” said Poppy’s grandparents, who were her biggest fans. “Dream big, pig!” said Poppy’s best friend, Emma, who was always there for her.

With the support of her family and friends, Poppy tries dancing, singing, and modeling before finally realizing that figure skating is where she shines the most. In the book’s sequel, It’s a BigWorld, Little Pig, Poppy gets to travel to Paris to compete in the World Games, where she meets new friends from around the world and continues to chase her figure skating dreams.


As someone who has chased his own dreams, Parker has some important advice for others like Poppy, whether they are pursuing figure skating or dance. “Be confident yet humble, work hard, realize you will experience ups and downs in your personal journey, listen to your coaches and teachers, and push yourself to be the best you can be,” he says. “Always come back to why you do what you do…because you love it! That passion will drive all and will help you get through anything. Last but not least, don’t forget to dream big!”

The next stops on the Skate Dance Dream tour are Mentor, Ohio, on April 12, 2014; Charleston, South Carolina, on July 19, 2014; and Dayton, Ohio, on September 6, 2014. For ticket information, to learn more about the show, or to sign youth up for auditions, visit www.skatedancedream.com. And keep dreaming big!

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20. Read & Romp Roundup: January 2014

Here's the January Read & Romp Roundup for your weekend reading…especially those of you who are stuck inside because of the rain or snow. There are some real goodies in this roundup, so enjoy!


At OMazing Kids, Angela shares two new additions to her collection of snow-themed picture books. Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow is the newest book in the popular Ladybug Girl series by David Soman and Jacky Davis. And One-Dog Sleigh, by Mary Casanova and Ard Hoyt, is a fun rhyming book about a whole bunch of animals squeezing into a single sleigh. Read Angela's post for her ideas on which yoga poses go best with the books!


To keep with the winter theme, Yoga & Creative Movement with Elly provides some yoga-inspired winter activities to keep your little ones busy if they are cooped up inside. Her post includes a short poem about a melting snowman, which would be great inspiration for some creative movement!


Reshama at Stacking Books posted about the new picture book Penguin Cha-Cha by author and illustrator Kristi Valiant. The book's main character, Julia, is sure she saw the penguins at the zoo dancing, but they just don't seem to want to do it again…at least not while anyone is watching. Read Reshama's post to hear more about how Julia tries to get the penguins to dance and to see some gorgeous illustrations from the book!


I'm so happy that Marta from A Bilingual Baby joined us again, this time with a post -- in both English and Spanish -- about a unique picture book version of The Nutcracker. Published by Usborne Children's Books with illustrations by Anna Luraschi, this book is recommended for preschool-age children, who will especially love pressing the buttons on the right-hand side of the book to hear different Nutcracker tunes by Tchaikovsky!


Dance educator Maria Hanley wrote two blog posts related to picture books and creative movement in January. Her contribution to the Book to Boogie series for the Library as Incubator Project discusses how to incorporate movement into story time with the classic picture book The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd. On her own blog, Maria's Movers, Maria shares movement ideas to go with the rhyming picture book Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows and Kurt Cyrus.


And last but not least, Renee at Mother Daughter Book Reviews is signing bloggers up for a blog tour in March 2014 for the new picture book Good Night, Animal World. The book is the newest in a series of Kids Yoga Stories written by yoga instructor Giselle Shardlow with illustrations by Emily Gedzyk. Sign up for the tour if you want to join the fun!

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21. Are You Ready to Hibernate?

Read It. Move It. Share It. 
I'm so happy that dance educator Maria Hanley from Maria's Movers and I are renewing our collaboration in 2014. I'm not yet sure how often we'll be posting together, but when we do, we'll be sharing our experiences with picture books I recommend for Maria to use in her creative movement classes in New York. Our January book is Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows and Kurt Cyrus!


With so many parts of the country being pounded by snow and surrounded by cold this winter, hibernation is starting to sound like a really good idea! Hibernation Station, written by Michelle Meadows with illustrations by Kurt Cyrus, provides plenty of opportunities for little ones to explore the concept of hibernation and pretend to be animals gathering food and preparing for their own winter's naps.

I actually haven't read too many picture books about hibernation, but this one has a twist that I can't imagine has been done before. Instead of searching for places to hibernate outside, the animals in this book -- already dressed in their finest cold-weather pajamas -- all board a special "hibernation" train that will carry them through the forest during the winter months…

Fuzzy slippers, warm pajamas.
Forest babies and their mamas…
show up early to the station!
Time for winter hibernation.

According to the illustrations, but not mentioned in the text, each car of the train is made out of a log that is full of compartments for different types of animals -- squirrels, frogs, raccoons, skunks, and more. But before the animals get comfortable in their new winter homes, there are a few problems they must overcome...

"I cannot sleep!" a black bear roars.
"My roommate rolls around and snores!"
A groundhog cries, "This hole's too tight."
"It's dark in here. I need more light."

As the train rolls through the forest, the illustrations show the season changing from fall to winter. By the end of the book, the snow is really coming down! And, as you might have guessed, the animals do solve their problems and finally get some shut-eye.

In a nutshell, if you make a book full of perfect rhymes, cute furry animals in pajamas, and a train -- like this one -- then it's bound to put smiles on the faces of little ones. Let's see what Maria came up with in the dance studio to make those smiles even bigger! You can read her ideas here.

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22. Join the January Read & Romp Roundup!


Happy New Year!

I'm excited to start another year of the Read & Romp Roundup, which was super successful last year. I've so enjoyed reading all the submissions, which have added new perspectives to my blog's theme of "a celebration of dance, movement and children's literature."

Today's the official call for submissions for the January Read & Romp Roundup. If you have a recent (or even not so recent) blog post that involves picture books or children's poetry AND dance, yoga, or another form of movement, leave your link in a comment on this post. Or, you can reach me on Facebook or Twitter to let me know about your link. I'll round up all the links and post them together next month.

Thank you so much for supporting the blog over the past year. I've enjoyed connecting with all of you and look forward to continued interaction in 2014. Please feel free to let me know what features you like on the blog or what changes you think I could make to improve it. I'm always open to new ideas! 

Submissions are open through Friday, January 31, 2014. 

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23. Read & Romp Roundup: November 2013

Here, finally, is the November Read & Romp Roundup for you to enjoy over the next few weeks. Like last year, I'll be skipping a December roundup because of the sheer business of this time of year, but look out for the next call for submissions in early January. Maria from Maria's Movers and I are also planning a "Read It. Move It. Share It" post for January. It's been a while since we've collaborated, so I'm looking forward to picking up our series again in the new year. Happy holidays, everyone!!


Marta from A Bilingual Baby features two yoga-inspired picture books by Giselle Shardlow and Emily Gedyzyk. The first is The ABC's of Australian Animals: An Interactive Kids Yoga Book. You can read all about it in Spanish on Marta's blog! The second is Sophia's Jungle Adventure: A Fun and Educational Kids Yoga Story. In her post, Marta includes a link to a YouTube video about the book, in which a young girl named Sophia explores Costa Rica through yoga poses. Marta, who has been using the books to do yoga with her son, joins us from Barcelona, Spain!


At Story Snug, based in Germany, Catherine features the all-time classic Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees. She recommends using the book to stimulate discussions on friendship and originality. She also recommends buying the book's accompanying CD, which has what she refers to as a fun "calypso jungle rhythm"! On Catherine's post, you can also find out how you can use colored paper, finger paints, and wool to create portraits of the book's main character, Gerald. So adorable!


If you haven't heard about the new picture book Penguin Cha-Cha by Kristi Valiant, now is your chance! Here on her blog, Kristi discusses the importance of reading with children at home and offers tips to help cultivate the love of reading. The post also links to lots of information about Penguin Cha-Cha, including a free activity kit that goes with the book. Congratulations on the book's launch, Kristi!


In November, Angela at OMazing Kids hosted a giveaway of the new picture book Colors for Zena by Monica Wellington. Although the giveaway's no longer open, you can still read all about this book plus two others by the same author/illustrator: Apple Farmer Annie and the coloring book Color and Cook Healthy Snacks. In her post, Angela shares all the reasons she likes these books. She also shares a collection of yoga poses to go along with Apple Farmer Annie!



Elly from Little Friends shares a yoga and creative movement class inspired by the Nutcracker. Intended for children ages 5 to 12, Elly's lesson plan goes chronologically through the ballet and presents yoga poses to go along with most of the main scenes, including the party scene, the battle with the Mouse King, and the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. With photos and musical recommendations to go with almost every pose, this post is a perfect one to enjoy over the holidays!

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24. Join the November Read & Romp Roundup!


It's that time again! Today's the official call for submissions for the November Read & Romp Roundup! If you have a recent (or even not so recent) blog post that involves picture books or children's poetry AND dance, yoga, or another form of movement, leave your link in a comment on this post. Or, you can reach me on Facebook or Twitter to let me know about your link. I'll round up all the links and post them together in a few weeks. Can't wait to see what you've all been up to! 

Submissions are open through Friday, December 6, 2013. 

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25. An Interview with the Creator of Crafterina

I have a feeling that a lot of you know little girls and boys who love both ballet and crafts. And if you do, then I have a feeling you will especially enjoy hearing from our special guest today -- Vanessa Salgado! Vanessa is an accomplished dancer, dance educator, and visual artist who has combined her unique talents to create Crafterina -- who, you will find out in the following interview with Vanessa, is much more than a character in a book!

How did you come up with the idea of Crafterina?

After teaching children's dance classes across New York City for a number of years, I always seemed to encounter the same question from parents: what can we practice at home to make my child a better dancer? My answer always surprised them: don't practice the classroom exercises at home -- instead, expose your child to the arts, encourage them to play, read stories together, and share with them a love of dance. Eventually, after realizing that parents may need a bit of help encouraging creative thinking and moving at home, I was inspired to combine my dancing, illustrating, and teaching skills to create Crafterina.


Crafterina is a storybook, craft book, and dance lesson in one. When I was developing the character, I wanted to inspire young thinkers and movers to use their imaginations to create art and learn more about the world around them. I understood great value in interdisciplinary learning, and I believe Crafterina’s Read-Create-Dance approach is the secret to achieving our inspiring tagline of CREATE YOUR DREAM. This is the big lesson behind Crafterina: you can be anything you want to be and you have the power to make it happen!


Crafterina is such a unique idea! When you were creating her, did you envision how the book and the crafts might be used in a home setting?

The book was designed to unite parent and child in a creative quest at home. It is perfect as a nighttime story, or as a weekend dance and craft activity. By using simple household craft tools and supplies, children are encouraged to create crafts and use their imagination to go on dancing adventures. Embedded in the text are simple do-it-yourself craft instructions, making it easy to create crafts together as you read. 

The storybook and website are also an excellent tool and resource for dance educators. We hope to inspire more teachers to encourage creative thinking and moving in the classroom and at home. For more tips on how the book and crafts can be used, please visit our websitewww.Crafterina.com. 

I noticed that Crafterina is also unique in the way she looks, especially the fact that she doesn’t have facial features. What was your reasoning behind this?

As the storyline developed, I felt it was important to create a character that all children could identify with. Our society has an immense focus on facial and physical beauty. The true beauty in the art of dance is not what one’s face looks like, but rather how the body is able to communicate through movement. The Crafterina character also embraces diversity and spreads a message of universality. To further this belief, we offer the Crafterina book in five additional styles so that all children can imagine they are the main character -- a creative, bright, beautiful, and talented artist!

Each child has a voice and a gift to share with the world. As grown-ups, our responsibility is to encourage young minds to believe in themselves and follow their dreams. We need more positive thinkers, role models, and leaders creating our world. Crafterina is a character to inspire a love for the art of dance in all readers and to spread the message that EVERYONE CAN DANCE!


That's a very inspiring message, and one that all children can embrace...especially when it involves crafts! Speaking of crafts, do you have a best-selling or most-popular craft? They all look like so much fun!  

Our Playtime Tableau has become a very popular craft and is very easy to create. Simply visit the Crafterina Etsy Shop to purchase and download one instantly. Once the craft is printed upon two pages of cardstock paper, carefully cut out and fold the backdrop and dancing characters to make them 3D. This particular craft is not only a fun toy for children. It also inspires thinking like a choreographer. Playing with the idea of symmetry, asymmetry, and stage directions, children learn from an early age how to create patterns and formations.


I like your idea of having crafts that go along with the Crafterina book but also having extra crafts available for purchase. So many possibilities this way! Would you have any recommendations for picture books that some of the extra crafts could be paired with?

I absolutely love using picture books to enhance learning for young dancers. For example, Nutcracker season is right around the corner. The Crafterina Etsy Shop is full of Nutcracker tableaus, puppet theaters, and masks to help bring this storybook ballet to life! One of my favorite picture book versions of The Nutcracker is a gorgeous pop-up book by Nick Denchfield with illustrations by Sue Scullard. The pop-up paper construction makes the story come to life!


Another series of popular ballet crafts are our Carnival of the Animals puppet theater, masks, and coloring pages. My favorite version of this whimsical tale is by Classical Music for Kids, with commentary by Barrie Carson Turner and illustrations by Sue Williams. The book even comes with a CD of Camille Saint-Saëns’ famous Carnival of the Animals score. 

For my third and final book recommendation, I'd like to highlight the board book Little Green by Keith Baker. A short and sweet story, this book is an excellent tool for dance educators looking to introduce the idea of pathways in a fun and imaginative way for their young students.


These all sound great. I've actually been wanting to get my hands on a copy of Carnival of the Animals for a few years now, so you have inspired me to go find a copy soon! Before we go for today, is there anything else you would like us to know about Crafterina?

I am working on new illustrations and crafts everyday and hope to spread the importance of creative dreams even further. I hope that my sharing of love for art with others may inspire many more young Crafterinas to follow their hearts and create their own dreams!  

I'd love for people to connect with Crafterina online via our website, our Etsy Shop, Facebookand Twitter to become a part of our dance and craft community! Also, the Crafterina children's book is available on Amazon.com, Etsy, and iTunes for the iPad

Thanks so much for allowing me to interview you, Vanessa. I've loved learning about Crafterina and being inspired to be more creative!

Vanessa Salgado is a professional dancer and visual artist based in New York City. She can be seen performing with CONTINUUM Contemporary/Ballet and has also taught many little dancers throughout Manhattan, primarily at the School at STEPS on Broadway and at the Joffrey Ballet School. Vanessa is a graduate of the world famous Alvin Ailey/Fordham University BFA Program at Lincoln Center. She also holds a Certification in Dance Education from the Dance Education Laboratory at the NY 92nd St. Y, Harkness Dance Center. Her earliest memories involve story time with her dad, creating with her mom, and attending weekend ballet class alongside her sister, Donna. Her interests in visual art revealed themselves wholeheartedly in high school as she simultaneously trained vigorously for the professional dance world. As she transitioned into her college days and into her professional life, her incessant doodles and crafting have remained a source of wonder for those around her. For more about Vanessa, please visit www.VanessaSalgado.com

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