Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Blog Tour: Dancing with Daddy by Anitra Rowe Schulte, illustrated by Ziyue Chen

Dancing with Daddy written by Anitra Rowe Schulte,
illustrated by Ziyue Chen
Two Lions/Amazon, 2021, 40 pages

It's her first father-daughter dance and Elsie is just so excited, but first things first - picking out the perfect party dress to wear. Elsie is sure the red polka dot dress that matches daddy's soccer jersey is just right for dancing along and paired with the matching pretty red polka dot bow for her hair. 

Hopefully, the snow that began to fall just as Elsie and her mother left the store will stop in time for the dance. At home Elsie's sisters Daphne and Rosalie are just as excited about her dress and the dance as she is. By the next morning, though, there is even more snow but happily Elsie's mom says the dance is still a go. The three sisters spend the day practicing their dance moves for later that night.

Finally, it's time to go. Elsie's mom helps her get dressed and fixes her hair and off Elsie, Daphne, and Rosalie go with daddy to the dance. And what a dance it is - just like Elsie had dreamed it would be, except better. 

Dancing with Daddy could be the story of any young girl going to her first dance, and it is, but with one exception - Elsie has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome (WHS) and must use a wheelchair to get around, a tablet using Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) to communicate, and usually is fed using a plastic tube to push food into her stomach, although she can taste some blended food like applesauce and pudding. 

And even though she is in a wheelchair, after her father reads the story of the nutcracker to her, Elsie still dreams about dancing and doing pirouettes.

Anitra Rowe Schulte was inspired to write Dancing with Daddy by her own daughter who has WHS. And she has worked Elsie's disability into this story so seamlessly, showing readers that Elsie is part of a supportive Asian American family and telling her story in language that makes it easy for young readers to understand Elsie's disability. 

The illustrations are colorful and delightful and Ziyue Chen relies on facial expressions to indicate Elsie's feelings and moods, while Schulte relies on change to color of the text to red for Elsie's thoughts. 

Dancing with Daddy shows readers how one family has embraced a child's disability and that it isn't a reason for kids to miss out on many of life's pleasures. This is also a wonderful example of Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop's windows and mirrors theory, in which some children will see their lives and experiences reflected back at them, while other will learn about those who are different from themselves. However, I would recommend reading the Author's Note at the beginning of the story to really understand Elsie and her life. Schulte provides a very accessible explanation of what WHS is. 

This book is recommended for readers age 6+
This book was gratefully received from Barbara Fisch at Blue Slip Media

Meet the Author:

Anitra Rowe Schulte has worked as a journalist for The Kansas City Star and the Sun-Times News Group, as a staff writer for Chicago Public Schools, and as a publicist. She is the mother of three beautiful girls, one of whom has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome and is the inspiration for Elsie in this book. She lives in the Chicago area, and this is her first picture book. Learn more about her at www.anitraroweschulte.com and follow her at @anitraschulte on Twitter.

Meet the Artist: 

Ziyue Chen is the Deaf illustrator of a number of children’s books, including Mela and the Elephant by Dow Phumiruk, How Women Won the Vote by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and Rocket-Bye Baby: A Spaceflight Lullaby by Danna Smith. She lives with her loved ones in Singapore. Find out more at www.ziyuechen.com or follow her @ziyuechen on Instagram.

What the critics are saying:

★“Refreshingly, Elsie’s disability is seamlessly presented as simply another aspect of family life…As she swings and sways in her father’s arms, her forehead against his, their love is palpable; Chen’s illustrations fairly glow with affection…A heartwarming portrayal of a family embracing disability.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[Anitra] Rowe Schulte uses accessible, rhythmic language…conveying Elsie’s thoughts in pink- and red-colored text. Light-filled digital illustrations by [Ziyue] Chen make use of differing angles and dynamic shots, emphasizing the love the family has for one another.” Publishers Weekly

“This sweet story is a great addition to any diverse and inclusive library.” —TODAY

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