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Brothers of the Knight

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  130 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Debbie Allen's contemporary retelling ofthe classic tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses with illustrations from Kadir Nelson!

Reverend Knight can't understand why his twelve sons' sneakers are torn to threads each and every morning, and the boys aren't talking. They know their all-night dancing wouldn't fit with their father's image in the community. Maybe Sunday, a pretty n
Paperback, 40 pages
Published December 31st 2001 by Puffin Books (first published 1999)
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Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen LevineEllington Was Not a Street by Ntozake ShangePlease, Baby, Please by Spike LeeMoses by Carole Boston WeatherfordWe are the Ship by Kadir Nelson
Best of Kadir Nelson
7th out of 39 books — 25 voters
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The Culturally Relevant Bookshelf
48th out of 127 books — 23 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 225)
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Melanie Johnson
Debbie Allen did a excellant job on retelling the fairy tale of the "Twelve Dancing Princesses," and made it into an African - American version. Brothers of the Knight takes place in a magical time in a village called Harlem, a part of New York City. It is about how Reverend Knight did not understand how his twelve sons' sneakers are torn to threads each and every morning. It did not matter how many housekeepers he hired to find the anwser they all was fired. Until one day a lady named Sunday wa ...more
Jaime Johnson
Jul 17, 2012 Jaime Johnson rated it really liked it
The main characters of the book are Happy, Reverend Knight, Sunday, and the 12 sons. The setting of the story is Harlem in New York and the story is told from the point of view of the dog, Happy! Brothers of the Knight starts out with the dog introducing all 12 brothers and the reverend. The boys had a nanny but each morning, the boys shoes would be all torn up and used out and no one could figure out why. Reverend Knight finally hired a nanny anmed Sunday that said she would figure out how the ...more
This is a beautiful and funky telling of a modern fairy tale (retelling and update of the Brother's Grimm story--The Twelve Dancing Princesses). A story full of magic, love, dance, and attitude. Debbie Allen makes the narrator the family dog who describes the events of both day and night with enthusiasm and disdain.

This would be an excellent companion read to The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Rachel Isadora (an African telling of the Grimm story).

Twelve brothers keep their love of dance a secret
Tiffany Wideman
Brothers of the Knight is a book about he Knight brothers who sneak out every night. Every morning the dad would wake up and find their shoes very muddy and destroyed. He hires a nanny to keep an eye on the boys. The author uses great deal of imagination through the use of invisible scarfs and talking dogs. This book was also funny the use of language made you smile while reading. I would use this book in my classroom to teach tone to students and how everything does not have to be grammatically ...more
Pam Vass
Jun 03, 2010 Pam Vass rated it it was amazing
This imaginative story is about a preacher who had twelve sons whose shoes kept wearing out during the night while they were sleeping. The father hired many nannies to deal with this issue and there is only one who can really help solve the mystery. This is a story told by an internal narrator who is the family dog. His tone changes during the story from mostly humorous to sensitive and warm, to caustic in the end when they put him outside because they get a cat. The writer is an actress, choreo ...more
wide reading for CI546

grade level: elementary.

genre: contemporary retelling of traditional tale.
format: picture book

themes: family. honesty.

school use: I might have this in my classroom library but I would probably not specifically use it in my classroom.

review: Lovely art by Kadir Nelson. A retelling of the 12 Princesses tale but the Princesses have become the 12 sons of a Harlem preacher and they are sneaking out at night just to innocently enjoy some Big Band dancing.

It was a fun retelling
Skye Kilaen
May 16, 2016 Skye Kilaen rated it really liked it
Nelson is one of my all-time favorite children’s book artists, so I checked this one out and read it by myself before my son even had a chance to look at it. Re-reading it with him was a delight, because he enjoyed the magical tale as much as I did. It’s a remix of the classic fairytale The Twelve Dancing Princesses, except with 12 boys of a single dad preacher in Harlem. Narrated by the family dog, the text is full of energy and fun.
Ms Threlkeld
Sep 11, 2014 Ms Threlkeld rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A fun updated version of the 12 Dancing Princesses in which the princesses have been replaced by 12 African-American brothers living in Harlem. Some of the slang is outdated (do people still say phat?), but the tone is fun and I thought it was great that the family dog was the narrator.
Gianna Mosser
Feb 22, 2015 Gianna Mosser rated it it was amazing
I might just be in love with everything Debbie Allen does, but the church in this fairy tale didn't even drive me away. It was like the von Trapp family dancers meet Harlem, and the language was fluid, the illustrations dreamlike and deeply colorful.
Sep 12, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing
I usually mock celebrity-written books, but this story is marvelous. It is a bold, beautiful, frenetic re-telling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale. And the artwork, also, is perfectly bold, beautiful and frenetic.

Nelson's art is warm and dynamic, particularly in showing the characters' movements. The dog-telling-the-story schtick feels a bit forced (as does some of the dialect in the narration), but the storyline--updating "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" to a modern story about a family in Harlem made up of a button-downed preacher dad and his twelve sons--works quite well. The sons slip away each night to dance, and after finding their ruined shoes every morning, their dad hires a new housekeeper to loo ...more
Dec 23, 2014 Jamila rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s, blackness
A fun book, full of magic and features of African-American culture that my children will be familiar with. It's also a beautiful story about the relationship between a father and his sons.
Mar 29, 2015 Lisa rated it liked it
Spirited and whimisical, Debbie Allen's take on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, is fun. Kadir Nelson's paintings bring to life this enchanted tale of twelve brothers and their seemingly un-hip father.
Sep 07, 2012 Bekkah rated it it was amazing
This book is a retelling of the classic fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" and is done incredibly well. The story is narrated by the family dog and the language is great for kids. I think students would really enjoy listening to this story.

The main message of the book is the importance of honesty. It would be a great resource for introducing the topic of responsibility, honesty, and telling the truth both in the classroom and at home. I especially like that telling the truth in this book
Apr 02, 2015 Siomara rated it it was amazing
The illustrations of this book are amazing. I love filling along and learning about the culture through the story.
Apr 05, 2016 Alenna rated it liked it
Cute retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses! (The only part I found a little strange were the editorial additions from the family dog "narrator".)
Apr 02, 2014 Frieda rated it it was amazing
Different Take on the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Cute
May 12, 2016 Keka rated it it was amazing
Patricia (Patricia's Particularity)
Reverend Knight is a pastor in Harlem and a father of 12 boys. In a search to solve the mystery of his sons' torn-up shoes he hires nanny Sunday. Nanny Sunday is taken on a dancing adventure when she discovers their secret!

This modern day twist of the German folktale, "The Twelve Dancing Princesses", is fun and exciting. Elements of jazz and regee are mixed up into both the writing and the illustrations. Told through the family dog, you will want to get up and dance after reading this picture.
Winter Sophia Rose
Sep 24, 2014 Winter Sophia Rose rated it it was amazing
Dancing The Knight Away!
Nov 25, 2012 Chanelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: cultural
Brothers of the Knight is a great book for a student to read who has a hidden talent but doesn't think it would live up to their family's standard. I like how it focuses on the reverend speaking about trust at the end. You could do a writing prompt that said what are your hidden talents. If you got a lot of hidden talents talked about amongst your students you could easily turn it into a talent show for the class!
Jan 27, 2011 Brenna rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful interpretation of the 12 dancing princesses fairy tale. I had never really understood or particularly liked the original fairy tale, but this version is fun and rollicking and makes more sense than the original. The dog narrator doesn't perfectly fit, but the story has a good rhythm and is rather enchanting.
Mar 10, 2016 Beth rated it really liked it
This would have been 5 stars except I felt like Allen was trying a little too hard to use young, hip language and came off as what it was: an older person trying to convince you that they're young and hip. Regardless, it's still an entertaining story with great characters.
Jacqualine Hart
May 27, 2013 Jacqualine Hart rated it did not like it
Honestly, I read this book because I'm a volunteer with in2books. Otherwise, I wouldn't have read it. The storyline had a moral lesson for young children - tell the truth. But, I didn't really care for the writing.
Wendy Jones
Apr 12, 2012 Wendy Jones added it
Shelves: ece-3601
This book is about 12 brothers that sneak out every night and go dance. One day their nanny follows them and finds out what they are doing. It is a cute story with a lot of good lessons to discuss with the students.
Nov 17, 2011 Shalana rated it it was amazing
So excited by Debbie Allen's book. This was adorable and sweet and so many underlying meanings and black expressions. Touched my heart. Love this book!
Pat Fromm
The story is a retelling of a fable, but it is kind of a mess. Also, it's from the dog's point of view which didn't really work.
Apr 10, 2011 Darrielle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic
Share this book with students to show how to develop a story and to build readers interest through repetition of events.
An amazing multicultural retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses.
May 13, 2009 Lori added it
Second I2B for Rashad. Something Evie could read.
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Actor, director, dancer/choreographer and singer, Debbie Allen's career has touched nearly every facet of the entertainment industry.

Allen's Broadway career as a dancer, singer and actor began in the chorus of "Purlie". She next appeared in "Raisin", then in the 1979 production West Side Story", for which she won a prestigious Drama Desk Award, as well as, her first Tony Award nomination. Allen re
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