Winner Wednesday: Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance by Brigitta Sif

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On this very steamy Winner Wednesday on campus, I will be reviewing Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance, written and illustrated by Birgitta Sif. This watercolor illustrated book captures the idea of appreciating ones individuality and the power of freedom of expression.

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Frances Dean is a shy little girl who loves to dance; she is the best example of someone who has caught the dancing bug. She realizes that it is not “appropriate” to dance around town, but she can hardly keep still in class and finds her fingers tapping along to the beat in her head. One day as Frances is exploring the forest, the only place she feels comfortable enough to dance, she comes across a girl younger than herself who is singing with the birds without a care in the world. Her observations of the younger girl cause Frances to realize the importance of self-worth. The next day, Frances finally lets her dancing feet do their magic and is delighted by the appreciation other people in the town have for her moves. Frances Dean finally found the confidence to dance as her heart desired and it was all because of the younger girl who was singing with the birds.

I think that this book serves as a great platform or segway into a discussion about appreciation for others talents and self-assurance in one’s own hobbies. This book could serve as a read aloud to younger children who are having a problem with bullying in the classroom or even an individual read that would help the children with creating their own stories. This is possible because the illustrations are so brilliant. The illustrator demonstrates a deep understanding of the use of space by varying the amount of negative space on the pages.

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This draws the reader’s eyes to the importance of the illustration and accents the story ever so perfectly. The illustrations have a life-like demeanor to them that will captivate the audience and maintain their attention. I believe that another classroom use of this book would be to have the children share their hobbies with the class and reinforce the no-judgment mentality that Frances Dean lives by in this book. This will demonstrate to the children that it is acceptable to act and do the things that you enjoy doing because everyone is unique in their own way.

As I have protested above, I believe that this is a great representation of Winner Wednesday, but no book is perfect. I think that there could be a little more depth within the plotline. I feel as if Frances does not struggle with her desire to dance as much as I would have hoped. If Frances overcame more hurdles having to do with her dancing, I think that this book could encapsulate a whole life skills curriculum, but seeing as Frances finds herself fairly easily, I believe that complimentary resources would be necessary to fully get the idea across to children.

Melissa Hunt

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