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Jose! : born to dance : the story of Jose Limon

by Susanna Reich


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Gr. 2-4. This picture-book biography tells the story of Jose Limon, who became a legendary figure in the history of American dance. Reich punctuates the scenes of Limon's childhood in Mexico with sensory details, especially sounds: the TRILLIA-WEET! TRILLIA-WEET! of his grandmother's canary singing; the clicking heels of flamenco dancers; the cries of \xc1 Ole! \xc1 Ole! \xc1 Ole! at the bullfight; and his mama's bedtime lullaby: SORA-SORA-SO, SORA-SO. Later, Reich shows how the rhythmic sounds from Limon's childhood became inspirations for movements expressed in his dance. When civil war in Mexico leads to fighting in the streets of their town, Linon's family flees to the U.S. In elementary school, laughter at his poor English fires his determination to succeed. As an adult, he moves to New York City, discovers his passion for dance, and works hard to become a dancer and choreographer. Sensitively written and beautifully illustrated, this picture book offers a soaring portrayal of achievement. Colon's distinctive watercolor-and-colored-pencil artwork includes many strong compositions that are fundamentally narrative yet emotionally resonate and often memorable. An expressive, stately tribute. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2005 Booklist

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 2-4-This story of a young Mexican boy with dreams works better as a picture book than a true biography. Brief anecdotes, presented like a slide show, take readers from Limon's birth through a happy childhood, the Mexican civil war, immigration and adaptation to the United States, and his struggle to become a painter, and then a dancer, in New York City. Colon's watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations on textured paper give a sense of movement and life. Colors are muted, backgrounds are somewhat impressionistic, and there is more energy in the art than in the very simple text. Short sentences, Spanish words scattered about (defined both in context and in a brief glossary on the copyright page), and some rhythm and sound effects make this a good read-aloud, though the lack of emotion at such pivotal moments as the outbreak of war, a mother's death, and Limon's leaving his elderly father for New York, is a weakness. The book gives little sense of the importance of Limon's life as a dancer and choreographer, and his transition from struggling painter to successful dancer is oddly abrupt. A historical note addresses his adult life and impact on dance history. Use this as a story or to pique the interest of children in this artist, but not as a biography.-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



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