Tracy's Reviews > Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo

Tap Dancing on the Roof by Linda Sue Park
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Mar 28, 08

bookshelves: art, kids-lit, picturebook, poetry
Read in March, 2008

This is another book that is a pleasure to hold as well as read. The format is square and smaller than most picture books. Inside, the paper is of good quality and provides a nice gleam to the whimsical illustrations.

Linda Sue Park introduces young readers to a Korean form of poetry, sijo. They are short poems that try to end with an unexpected, sometimes funny, twist at the end. The poems provide plenty of material for the Hungarian illustrator, Istvan Banyai. His figures barely stay on the page as they rollick and zoom around. While color does make an appearance here and there, the majority of the illustrations stay in a grey-black-white scheme more familiar to graphic novels than kids books. In color or not, the roly-poly tot that traverses the pages is endearing and sometimes more compelling than the poems.

The poem from which the title takes its name is one of my favorites, "Long Division."

  "This number gets a wall and a ceiling. Nice and comfy in there.
But a bunch of other numbers are about to disrupt the peace---
bumping the wall, digging up the cellar, tap dancing on the roof."


Banyai has a bunch of tots swarming over a huge long division symbol that reminded me of a construction crew. Sometimes the illustrations are a bit much for the small page they must occupy. Another favorite poem, "Important Announcement," describes a delicious moment heralding spring, but I must admit, the scene is more apocalyptic than joyous with a giant shadow looming over the bunny rabbits and squirrels. But, overall, the illustrations are excellent.

Sometimes, Park's poems get overwhelmed by Banyai's dominating pictures, but I did appreciate most of them. These are definitely lines to be read aloud and not just in your head. Park hones in on the daily life of children and colors scenes with a child's non-linear imagination. There are three ways to explore this book with children: plum vocabulary, searching for the "twists," and going coo-coo for the illustrations.

Not for people who like the cutesy end of the kid lit spectrum. Definitely for people looking to put poems in their pockets during April, National Poetry Month.
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