ISBN 0590430092 - Only once before did I wish for a special sixth star... this one deserves at least that many. I read a lot, and a lot of kids' books. Among them, there are always books that are really good, even great, and those get 5 stars. Then there will come a book like Song and Dance Man and I almost regret doling out a 5 star review to other books that don't quite reach the same level as this one.
Three children visit their grandparents. Grandpa tells them, as he has before, about the good old days, when he was a song and dance man on the vaudeville stage. While Grandma makes dinner, Grandpa takes the children into the attic where he has a trunk full of old costumes and props. The children watch as their grandfather performs, tap dancing and telling corny old jokes that they've heard before but still make them laugh. When the show is over, the children applaud and Grandpa packs away his things... for next time. Grandpa assures the kids that he wouldn't trade a day with them for a million good old days.
The text, by Karen Ackerman is descriptive and draws you right into the story and, from there, right into Grandpa's past. This is a fantastic story, especially good for grandparents to read to little ones. Illustrator Stephen Gammell is one of those people whose work you come across now and then without knowing his name and he always seems to do a job appropriate to the story. Here, the illustrations are mostly bright and colorful, like many childrens' books, but Gammell still manages to work darker shades in where they belong (like in the attic). There's a feeling of motion in many of the images that captures everything from Grandpa's dancing to a group hug. Neither Ackerman's story nor Gammell's illustrations would be half as good, or even feel complete, without the other.
Great story. Wonderful illustrations. This book was awarded the Caldecott Medal (for artwork) in 1989. You'll love it! It's all about Grandpa!
This book was awarded the 1989 Caldecott Medal.