Drumbeat in Our Feet
By PlanetEsme Plan
After seeing the Batoto Yetu performance of young dancers in New York City, the author was inspired to write this truly informative and exuberant tribute to the art form of African Dance. Double-page spreads seep from sepia-toned scenes from Africa into energetic full-color watercolors of a class in Harlem in preparation for a big show. We see the powerful dance that accompanies a boy’s coming of age, the Mukanda; the image-dances that imitate lumbering elephants and high-flying birds; we learn the meaning behind the face-paint of the Yoruba and Shona; we vicariously hear drums that speak, animal skin voices that carry for miles, and communicate with each other through call and response; we honor ancestors and spirits through dance, masks, libation and celebration. The author maintains an amazingly seamless flow between the factual information and the movement toward the big performance. Notes after the text include vibrant full-color photos, as well as a clear map, pronunciation guide, and a listing of the author’s sources. This high-interest, high-octane book has a tremendous immediacy and children will definitely come away from it knowing things they didn’t know before. It is a brilliant contribution to multicultural literature as well as literature about the arts, and will bring out the dancer/drummer/painter in every reader.