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I Will Dance

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  151 ratings  ·  47 reviews
This poetic and uplifting picture book illustrated by the #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator of We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines follows a young girl born with cerebral palsy as she pursues her dream of becoming a dancer.

Like many young girls, Eva longs to dance. But unlike many would-be dancers, Eva has cerebral palsy. She doesn’t know what dance looks like fo
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published May 26th 2020 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published 2020)
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Average rating 4.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  151 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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Dec 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: beatrix, children
I read this with my 21-mo. This book is definitely written for older children, but it's never too early to read "above level" for all the benefits to vocabulary and emotional development. Even so, I didn't expect a huge reaction, and sure, most of the story probably went over her head. At one point, though, the dancers are standing in a line and Eva is seated in her wheelchair. My daughter pointed at her and said "Up!" (her command for "get up"). I explained that some people don't get up to move ...more
Richie Partington
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks
Richie’s Picks: I WILL DANCE by Nancy Bo Flood and Julianna Swaney, ill., Atheneum, May 2020, 48p., ISBN: 978-1-5344-3061-7

“Right foot right, left foot left
They got me on the run
Now I know what grownups do
When they go out for fun”
-- my hazy recollection of “I’d Rather Dance Than Eat,” the song to which our Saturday afternoon dance class tap-danced when I was in second grade.

Back then, I learned that moving my body to music was a lot of fun. These days it’s just two of us dancing at home. But whe
Mary Ann
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
“I don’t want to imagine. I want to dance. The teacher says, pretend you are dancing. I don’t want to pretend. I want to move. I want to feel the music, sway, swing, fly over and under. Together. Not alone.”
I truly appreciate the way this gets into the point of view of a girl who uses a wheel chair and wants to dance. Such a needed book. Such a child-centered story.
Abby Johnson
Eva longs to dance, but she's not sure she can. Living in a wheelchair and only able to move a little bit, could she ever be welcomed onto the stage? This beautiful picture book is based on students in the Young Dance Company, a company for young people of all abilities. Yes, Eva can dance. And this picture book shows a group of different children of different ability levels and body types (including larger able-bodied children) dancing together and creating art. ...more
The desire to dance has filled shelves with picture books, but Flood brings us an unusual treat. I Will Dance is a must for young dancers everywhere. Our hero, she’s the girl who lived. And one day, a girl who dances.

Our first person narrator, a ten-year-old girl, wants to dance. Not imagine dancing. Not pretending to dance. And not because she is incapable, the words and pictures demonstrate her ability to imagine and pretend.* She wants to dance, to move, to participate with other dancers on t
Molly Cluff (Library!)
Dec 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
An interesting story about a real-life, all-abilities dance studio. The illustration style is soft and friendly, and the message about a girl finding belonging and realizing her dreams is great.
Kid Lit Reviews
Inspired by a true story – a young girl with cerebral palsy wishes for a tutu; wishes to dance. But she is in a wheelchair. Only her head, arms, and fingers can move. So how will this young girl ever have her wish come true? Not all dreams come true; not for you, or me, or the young girl. Mom tells her to imagine she is dancing. Her teacher tells her to pretend.

The young girl watches dancers as they swirl, spin, and stand on tall toes. She wants to stand on tall toes. She wants to pirouette acro
Kristin Guay
Dec 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This wonderful book is inspired by a young girl who is a dancer in a company called Young Dance. This company invites and encourages young people of all abilities to be a part of their creative dancing group. In this story, we meet a young girl who is celebrating her 10th birthday. She is in a wheelchair and is too weak to blow out the candles on her birthday cake. She explains how she was born very tiny and was not expected to live very long. She has lived for ten years, but her body is very we ...more
Baby Bookworm
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: our-reviews
Hello, friends! Our book today is the stunning I Will Dance, written by Nancy Bo Flood and illustrated by Julianna Swaney, an inspiring tale of a young girl’s love of dance.

When Eva was born, she could barely breathe; the doctors said she would not survive more than a few minutes. Yet Eva defied the odds and, ten years of minutes later, she has one dream: to dance. Confined to a motorized wheelchair with very limited mobility, her moms and teachers encourage her to “imagine” or “pretend” that sh
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks
The words and the illustrations of "I Will Dance," written by Nancy Bo Flood and Illustrated by Julianna Swaney, flow across the page in a story about one 10 year old’s dream, determination, and courage. It is a story that will empower children of all abilities, and adults, too.

Eva, who is never named in the text, has cerebral palsy.

“On my birthday,
can’t blow out the candles—
not enough strength.
But I have one wish:
a pink tutu.
I want to dance.”

I was a dancer. I still am, on the inside. I t
Sandy Brehl
Inspired by real people and an actual dance company that the author witnessed.
In this case the fictionalized young girl in a powered wheelchair introduces herself with a stunning reality check- born so premature that she was not expected to live.
Live she did, far past the doctor's prediction of only minutes of life. With minimal movement of a few body parts, she is filled from her heart to her skin with a love of dancing. She lacks the strength to blow out birthday candles, but her wish is for
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
Children's picture book. Wow. What a lovely story, hopeful and filled with light. Eva is a child with cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair to get around. While she doesn't have the strength to blow out her birthday candles, she does have a dream: to dance! Dancing is understandably difficult with a limited lung capacity and her wheelchair, but when a newspaper ad mentions dance class for all abilities, Eva has to try. When she goes, she finds a true diversity of dancers-- with wheelcha ...more
My heart went out to Eva, a young girl with cerebral palsy who just wants to dance. But she doesn't want to imagine, she doesn't want to pretend, she wants to actually move her body through space. Her eagerness, her frustration and her hesitancy are all strongly depicted. When she finds a dance group for "all ages and abilities" she wonders if they really mean it. And she finds they do. The illustrations capture the movement of the group, including those of different abilities, and really portra ...more
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books-e
This was fabulous. I loved the illustrations and the movement in the illustrations. I liked the story over all, and felt a little reminiscent of the theater group I used to be a part of that is also all-inclusive. It allowed me to relate to/see some of the story more, but I think more in the analytical "yes, this seems like it does it justice" aspect. I think that the book is very well written, and it is a beautiful story, more so because it is based in truth.
I would absolutely recommend this bo
Annamarie Carlson (she, her)
Eva longs to dance. But Eva is in a wheelchair because she has cerebral palsy. While she stares longingly at other kids and professional dancers on the stage, she can't imagine she will ever be able to join them. But one day, she finally can, when she learns about the Young Dance Company, a dance studio for young people of all abilities (and a real organization).

A beautiful story adding some much needed cerebral palsy representation to children's literature (plus the visual representation of ma
Ann Jacobus
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Expressive, exuberant illustrations bring this story of a young girl who dreams big and doesn't give up, to life. Eva has always dreamed of dancing but from a wheelchair, was told to imagine and pretend. Until she finds a dance studio for all ages and all abilities. Hard work leads to a joyful performance and ending. Clapping, whistles, and cheers! ...more
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully told and illustrated book about a girl who longs to dance, but she has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Eva hears of a studio that teaches youth of all abilities to join in movement and dance. The book is inspired by Young Dance and its executive director, Gretchen Pick. It is inclusive, inspiring and hopeful. The illustrations swirl with the movement of dance.
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I Will Dance has so many positives! Acceptance of others, acceptance of self. This book gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes. A wonderful book for parents teachers and students who might feel a little different. I checked this book out from the library but I would recommend it for a classroom or school library to have on hand.

Read the authors note and dedication.
Deborah Holt Williams
Oct 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such an inspiring book about a girl in a wheelchair who wants to dance, and eventually finds a dance company that welcomes her. It's also about not giving up on a dream, inclusion, and being differently abled. The lovely illustrations remind me of Gyo Fujikawa's work, and even though Nancy originally wanted photographs, the watercolors work perfectly. ...more
Jan 06, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-book
There are not many books like this one. It celebrates diversity through poetic verses and flowing lines. I thought it was a beautiful tribute to the Young Dance Company-- a dance studio that takes dancers of all abilities and encourages them to express themselves through movement.

Very sweet book with lots of beautiful pictures. The text fit the illustrations and theme perfectly.
Lisa Yee Swope
A good dance studio works with the dancers they have to train them to excellence. In this case, Eva longs to dance but is limited in mobility in her wheelchair. But a welcoming sign inviting “all abilities, all ages” beckons, and Eva, as well as others, DANCE.
Wendi Silvano
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a stunningly beautiful book. The language flows as elegantly as a graceful dance, and the illustrations are charming. What a beautiful way to portray that there are many ways to dance, and ways for all to be part of a whole.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Eva longs to dance. But she has cerebral palsy and she can only move her head, arms, and fingers. Still she longs to dance.

Her mother knows of her desire, and she goes to a tryout for a dance company. Happily, all are welcome. And all can dance.

Lovely story of encouragement and inspiration.
Jo Oehrlein
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dance, picture-books
About a girl in a motorized wheelchair who wants to dance, not imagine or pretend and definitely not alone.

An open audition to a dance company for all abilities helps her fulfill her wish to dance and be part of a group.
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I Will Dance is a beautifully illustrated story inspired by an individual whose life mirrors that of the main character's. The book is inclusive and positive and there are author and illustrator notes in the back with resources for further learning. ...more
Dec 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
Hmm. The story? Spot on. The illustrations? Beautiful. The writing? Meh... The writting was a weird balance of poetic and straightforward that did not mix well for me. At times it took me out of the characters story.

Overall, a great option for an inclusive picture book.
A glorious celebration of inclusion and community.
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A touching story with gorgeous illustrations. I had tears in my eyes with I finished reading it.
Mama Suzi Moses
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Joyful look at an important organization that helps children with physical disabilities to dance and perform.
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Nancy Bo Flood is an author, psychologist, teacher, and mother who writes about what she enjoys—children and foreign cultures. She has taught in several different cultures, including Japan, Saipan of Micronesia, Hawaii and Samoa. She lives on the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona.

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