The Song and Dance Man
Nicole Leroy Instructor Michelle Hudgens English 250 10 October 2012 The Song and Dance Man I choose the book The Song and Dance Man. This book was one of my favorites as a child. It was written by Karen Ackerman and illustrated by Stephen Gammell.
The Song and Dance Man received the Caldecott Medal in 1989. The story is about grandchildren coming to visit their grandparents. The grandpa decided to show his grandchildren his past life as a song and dance man and what people did for entertain long before television. The theme of the story is that family is more important than being famous.
He shows them that he appreciates his past but loves the life he currently has. The grandpa shows throughout the story how much he loves and cherishes his time with his grandchildren. He also shares with them his former life as a song and dance man on the vaudeville stage and what people use to do for entertainment. In the attic, the grandchildren see the posters of grandpa from the past realizing that he was once a famous dancer and entertainer. The underlying message is that it is important to stay young at heart. Grandpa danced away even though he had to cushion the corns on his feet.
In the story, the grandpa says, “I wonder if my tap shoes still fit? ” all while he is smiling, knowing that the shoes will still fit. The grandpa shows the children that it is ok to make believe and use your imagination to have a good time by sharing his dancing and magic tricks. The grandchildren get to explore their own creativity by trying on old clothes pretending, singing and dancing their selves. The story is told from the point of view of the grandchildren. You can feel the admiration, respect, and love that they have for their grandfather.
As the grandchildren watch their grandpa, they clap their hands and call out “Yay, Grandpa! ” This sets the light-hearted, fun, loving mood and tone of the story. The language used by the narrator is calm, loving, with lots of excitement and amazement when grandpa begins to dance and becomes a different person, the song and dance man. The narrator shows his amazement when he says that the sounds coming from the shoes is too many to be made with only two feet. The children see their grandpa as a different person when he becomes the song and dance man.
When they travel up the steps to the attic it is like they are going back in time. In the story it says, “We forget that it is grandpa dancing, and all we can hear is the silvery tap of two feet, and all we can see is song and dance man gliding across a vaudeville stage. Occasionally during his performance, he becomes grandpa again when he tries to cure the hiccups of one of the grandchildren. Then he is back to performing telling jokes and playing tricks. The performance is over, he puts the shoes and clothes back in the trunk and heads for the stairway and he is grandpa again.
When the children come back down stairs he whispers, “He wouldn’t trade a million good days for the days he spends with us. ” The silver half-moon tap shoes, top hats, and bow ties all symbolize grandpa’s past as an entertainer before he became a husband, father, and grandfather. The posters still hung in the attic shows his love of the past. When they return down stairs, grandpa glances back up the steps it symbolizes his appreciation and fondness of his past life as a song and dance man. The illustrator used many colors in a light, pastel in nature.
The use of light instead of bright colors seems to set the stage for happy, calm, and relaxing setting. Two of the main colors used by the illustrator are red and yellow. These colors give a feeling of warmth, cheerfulness, and excitement. Some of the pictures have a lot of blue. The blue seems to represent the calm, serenity of the setting. The pictures have a lot of texture through the picture marts because they draw with some sort of colored pencils. The use of colored pencils helps add to the youthful, light heartedness, and fun of the story. Shading shows is used to show depth and at time darkness at the edge of the lighted areas.
The illustrator used of lots of empty space in the pictures to show quiet, serene time. For example, at the beginning of the story, before the children arrived, the illustrations are small and do not take up the whole page. Later in the story when the grandpa is dancing, the pages are full of color and pictures to show excitement, movement of grandpa’s performance. The illustrator used many lines around characters and objects to show that they are moving. He used lots of lines, sometimes in a zig zag form, to show fast quick motions like when grandpa is dancing or tossing objects into the air.
He used fewer lines to show slower movements and no lines to show lack of movement. The objects in the picture are random and tilted in places to show the relaxed nature of the environment at the grandparents’ house. In the end of the story, the grandpa and grandchildren returned down the stairs, back to present time, where grandma has dinner ready. He hugs his grandchildren showing them that even though he loved his song and dance life, he loves his grandchildren more. He would not trade them for no amount of fame.